Laundry to Landscape

This is a low-tech system that provides easy  distribution of greywater to many plants. It is relatively low cost, and easy to install. The washing machine’s internal pump slightly pressurizes the greywater, so this system can irrigate plants that are slightly uphill or further away along flat ground.

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Commercial scale greywater applications

Apartments, businesses, schools, or other situations with more water, more people, and more public exposure to the greywater will require a more complex and sophisticated system for reuse. Systems for this situation collect greywater in a large temporary tank, filter and disinfect it, and then pump it back to either flush toilets, or supply a drip irrigation system for the landscape.

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Manufactured Greywater Systems

Typical manufactured systems filter and disinfect greywater, then use it to flush toilets. In most residential situations, it is more environmentally and economically beneficial to reuse greywater directly in the landscape, bypassing any type of manufactured system. In situations where there are large quantities of greywater produced, and not much irrigation need, it makes sense to treat the water and reuse it for toilet flushing. We don’t recommend any of these systems for typical residential situations. If a resident does not have outdoor irrigation need, however, then these kinds of systems can be appropriate.

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Constructed Wetlands

[img_assist|nid=491|title=Taro|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=125|height=100]Wetlands are nature’s water purifiers. They remove nutrients filter sediments from floodwaters, and can be designed to remove nutrients and other pollutants from stormwater and wastewater.Although greywater used for irrigation does not need treatment, constructed wetlands can be used to treat greywater for destined for the aquifer or a local creek, river, pond, or estuary, or to create backyard wildlife habitat.

When thinking about treating greywater in a wetland, here are a few things to keep in mind:

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Choosing and irrigating plants with greywater

[img_assist|nid=478|title=|desc=Apple tree watered with greywater.|link=node|align=left|width=100|height=125]Whatever your water source, grow plants that produce food, provide habitat to wildlife, or create other beneficial uses like mulch, fertilizer, fuel, or building materials!

Read more about how and where to irrigate plants with greywater, what to consider when choosing plants, and how to keep plants healthy.

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How to do a percolation test

In a well-functioning greywater system, greywater soaks into the ground without  pooling or running off. In general, clayey soils drain very slowly, while sandy or gravelly soils drain quickly. A home percolation test is a simple way to measure how quickly your soil drains and to determine how much area you need to infiltrate the greywater.

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Greywater Reuse

[img_assist|nid=257|title=|desc=Greywater irrigated landscape|link=node|align=left|width=120|height=93]Greywater is water from your bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines. It is not water that has come into contact with feces, either from the toilet or from washing diapers.

Greywater may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain household cleaning products. While greywater may look “dirty,” it is a safe and even beneficial source of irrigation water in a yard. There are many simple, economical ways to reuse greywater in the landscape.

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