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graywater - soap okay for plants?

Posted by boston_guy MA (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 3, 11 at 12:37

I recently realized that one advantage of our rough old house is I can easily divert a shower drain out a window to a dry perennial flower bed!

My wife is skeptical and thinks it will be bad for the flowers, long term.

Any advice? BTW I'm not too interested in building codes, etc, in reference to this idea. :)



Follow-Up Postings:

RE: graywater - soap okay for plants?

g'day BG,

dunno about perennial plants but we use it for potted plants and vege garden as well as fruit trees, that includes laundry water as well.

also to help save good water use it to flush the solids in the toilet, urine should not be flushed alone, better to collect urine in a bucket and mix it with the water going to the gardens/fruit trees. use buckets in the shower.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

RE: graywater - soap okay for plants?

Greywater is best used for non-veggies plants, like fruit trees and flower beds. If you were worried about the water hurting the plants - then you could build a very simple sand filter for pretty cheap (50 gal drum, rocks, and sand). Also it depends on the soap that you use. There are soaps available that are made for greywater use, both for laundry and personal care. We buy our greywater laundry soap online - Oasis brand - works great.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bio Soaps!

RE: graywater - soap okay for plants?

Some people say don't, some say it's okay. The AMOUNT may be an issue.

If you haven't seen it already, get a copy of Art Ludwig's book: The New Create an Oasis with Grey Water. Most library systems have it, or can get it. Very informative.


RE: graywater - soap okay for plants?

Be very careful about shampoos, soaps and detergents. Many contain phosphates and chemicals that are detrimental to soil organisms. I shudder to think of anti-bacterial products in the soil...

RE: graywater - soap okay for plants?

Phosphates tend to be good, not bad, for the plants.

Every drop of my washing machine water has gone under but toward the edge of a large pecan tree and has for decades with no indication of ill effect. It adds no massive amount of irrigation but provides some baseline irrigation in our frequent dry periods. Here we would however get good flushing periodically, particularly in winter, so little that is soluble could build up. It is also a long way down to the water table so there is good condition for the biodegradation of the detergent organics (probably better than in a septic tank). I'd use phosphate detergent if I could find it. It would pose no threat at all to streams here, too far away. I'd probably move the outflow every few years though then to spread out the P fertilization.

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