Gray Water Gardening

What is Gray Water and How Can It Help Your Garden?

Anyone who has ever tried to keep a garden alive during a drought… or experienced the shock of high public water bills during a hot dry summer, needs to know about gray water. I know that this may not be on everyone’s mind all the time – especially when we are experiencing high rainfall – but we all know that dry times come – and this method will save you money and may even save your garden.

Gray Water Collection and Distribution

Gray water is not actually gray in color. Instead, this is a term which refers to water which is able to be recycled for use in your lawn and garden. A lot of water used in a standard American home can be reused to water the grass, trees, and flowers in your yard. It’s perfectly safe if done properly, and it makes an amazing difference in the health of your yard and garden – as well as your bank balance.

Now there are different ordinances and laws for gray water usage across the country, so you’ll need to consult with your local city before starting to use gray water in your own gardens. It’s also considered best to avoid using it in vegetable and food gardens.

For flowers, trees, grass, and other non-edible lawn and garden areas though, using gray water can mean the difference between a healthy garden or a dead one.

In most cases, gray water comes from the bath and shower of your home. Some places also allow washing machine and dishwasher run off to be used as gray water too. If you use any of these sources to water your lawn and garden though, it is safest to choose soaps and other cleansers which are non-toxic and not harmful to the environment.

When a house is set up to use gray water for the yard and garden, it is simply rerouting used water to those areas instead of letting it go down the drain into the sewage system. After taking a bath for instance, when the tub is drained of water, that water may go out a hose which leads to the garden area. Alternatively, the pipes which connect the bathtub to the sewage system may simply be rerouted to the garden areas instead.

The same type of set up is done for showers too, and washing machines or dishwashers. Water from your toilet is not used for watering the lawn or garden areas though, because this is considered hazardous waste material. Human waste materials from the toilet can create diseases and other major health hazards.

It is these health hazards which also cause some communities to be very strict about gray water too. Many areas for instance, will not allow water from the dishwasher to be run into the yard and garden area because there could be hazardous germs and contamination risks.

In some communities, gray water is only allowed to be used with certain other conditions and restrictions too. You may be required for instance, to make sure your gray water run off is a minimum distance away from your neighbor’s yard.

For the best results in your garden, when you use gray water be sure that it has cooled to a more moderate, luke warm temperature before it is drained into your garden. Sending very hot water to your plants and flowers can shock and kill them. This is easiest to accomplish by washing your clothes with warm water instead of hot, and allow your bath water to cool before draining it.