08 March 2011

Greywater keeps it green

It's possible to save water during the dry months without having to watch your beloved garden shrivel. Greywater doesn’t sound appealing, but it helps keep things green.

It's possible to save water in summer without having to watch your beloved garden shrivel in the heat. Greywater doesn’t sound appealing, but it helps keep things green.

Household greywater includes water that you’ve used to wash yourself (i.e. from the bath, shower or basin), or do the laundry.

  • For the most part, gardens thrive on greywater, but it’s still a good idea to switch to fresh water every now and then – say once a week.
  • Apply greywater directly to the soil, i.e. at ground level and not via a sprinkler, to minimise its contact with foliage.
  • Don’t use greywater on root vegetables (like carrots) which will be eaten raw.
  • Greywater is alkaline, so don’t use it on plants that prefer acid soil.
  • Use greywater on established plants, not seedlings.
  • Spread greywater over a wide area – don’t always use it on the same section of your garden.
  • Some greywater is only suitable for toilet flushing, not irrigation. This includes water containing fabric softener, water from washing dirty nappies and water from washing clothes heavily soiled with petrol or industrial pollutants.
  • Don’t re-use dishwater. It's also sometimes included in the definition of ‘greywater’, but it's not suitable for recycling in this way. It contains chemicals that might damage plants, and food residues that can cause unwanted bacterial growth.
  • Try to use greywater within 24 hours, or the rising bacteria count will start to cause odour. You can keep it a few days longer, but then you’ll need to treat it by adding about half a tablespoon of bleach per litre – and that, of course, adds to the chemical load.
  • Don’t let children or pets play with or drink greywater.
  • Improve the quality of your greywater at source by using less soap, cosmetics and laundry detergent.


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