Garden and Yard Care

Published on July 26th, 2011 | by Vivian Nelson Melle


Using Laundry Grey Water in the Garden

With groups like Foods Not Lawns working to help consumers grown their own groceries, many are finding themselves as the new urban farmers. Home gardens are becoming quite popular with watering offering the biggest challenge for the eco-conscience and those with tender budgets. Using laundry grey water in the garden can save money and increase the over-well being of greenery.

Setting up grey water system

Lowers Water Consumption

Grey water use helps conserve water usage by diverting sources from sewage to yards, gardens and short term storage for potted plants. Depending on your community, grey water use can save money during the hot summer months when most water quickly evaporates and when universal water usage is at its yearly high. Some households can actually hydrate plant life solely on grey water while enjoying user-friendly and automated system.

Increases Awareness of Household Cleansers

Grey watering allows consumers to take stock in the ingredients found in laundry detergents, softeners and other laundry additives. It’s important to consider the plant life feeding from the waste water as well as any wildlife in the surrounding eco-system. While small amounts of detergents and even bleach may have minimal effects in the short run, continuous use can put a strain on your garden’s micro-environment. There are several laundry products on the market made specifically for gray water systems. When in doubt, most products made for septic systems are safe for grey watering.

Helps Plant Life and Soil

It may be surprising to learn that dirty laundry water is actually a treat for plant life. It turns out the organic materials found in laundry waste water can actually supply extra nutrients to plants giving them a boost of vitality. Many detergents contain nitrogen and phosphates which help with plant growth. Grey water users usually report an increase in growth and overall positive appearance in the garden. Soil composition enjoys favorable changes by allowing deeper penetration of water and introducing more air and nutrients.

Considerations for Laundry Grey Water

While laundry grey water is mostly made up of soiled laundry waste, consideration should be made when diapers and other by products with human waste are introduced. Having a dual system which can be turned on to divert grey water to the sewer when needed is the easiest way to remedy this situation. Since bleach and harsher chemicals are sometimes used, this system allows plants to remain unaffected by non-bio-safe detergents and cleaning agents. It’s also important to consider which plants are watered with grey water. There is some debate on the hygiene of grey water use on vegetables and it’s best left to personal preference. Most agree, however, that root vegetables and low growing edibles should not be fed with a grey water system.

How To Convert to Grey Water Systems

Converting to grey water can be as simple as adding a hose to drain laundry waste water from the machine to your garden. It can also become more complicated with filtering and storage systems. A search online offers several plans, but some may feel more comfortable putting their system in the hands of an expert green plumber. Check your local garden clubs for possible grey water workshops or trainings.

{Photo} Telic Arts Exchange

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About the Author

Vivian Nelson Melle is a writer and life coach helping individuals, families, and businesses thrive. She supports small businesses especially in the areas of Green Living, Health, and Wellness. She can be found at and

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