Greywater is any used water that comes from the home, excluding water from the toilet (this is known as blackwater). Sources of greywater which are safe and easy to reuse for irrigating the garden include wastewater from the washing machine, laundry tub, shower and hand basin.
It’s important to do a bit of research before setting up a greywater reuse system. You do need to be careful with using greywater, and what you can do with your greywater is quite dependent on your specific situation. But with a little planning, a number of fruit trees can be watered solely with greywater, saving tank/mains water and time spent watering.
By far the best book we’ve come across for greywater reuse is Art Ludwigs Create and Oasis with Greywater. There’s also a good overview of guidelines on greywater reuse at http://www.waterforlife.nsw.gov.au/recycling/greywater/greywater_fact_sheets. Local Councils can also be a good place to check for guidelines and advice specific to your area.
We’ve set up two greywater reuse systems. One sends water from the washing machine and laundry tub to a banana paw paw pit and fruit trees on the western side of the block. The other provides water from the shower to fruit trees down the eastern side of the block.
Our set up is really simple. It’s just a 40mm pipe that runs from the source of the greywater to the fruit trees. We’ve installed greywater diverters into a system, so we can manually select which fruit tree will receive the water, to ensure no one tree is over watered. To comply with regulations, the area where the greywater is released is covered in at least 10cm of soil or mulch. We’ve also put a mesh screening at the beginning of the system running from the shower, to prevent things clogging up the system, and stop anything climbing up the pipes. The mesh is easy to remove so we can clean it now and then.
Greywater distribution and dispersal pipes being tested before burying
With this kind of set up you do need to use eco-friendly, low salt, cleaning products. In the shower we use vegetable soap and organic shampoo, while for the washing clothes we use garden friendly phosphate free washing liquid.