Laundry Drum

Site location: Oakland, CA

  • Goals: To reuse wash water in the garden in a simple and low-cost way.
  • Site description: The washing machine located next to a window near the garden. The yard has several fruit trees and ornamental bushes.
  • Fixtures and output: One washing machine, top loading. 30 gallons/load.
  • Cost: Salvaged food grade drum $15, plumbing parts $4, high quality garden hose $30. Total: $50

Water Flow

tondre-surgetank-web-107x180The hose from the washing machine is placed out an open window. To switch back to the sewer the hose is brought inside and placed into the stand pipe next to the machine.

The water flows from the washer hose (white) into an extension of 1 1/2 ABS pipe (black) then into a 55 gallon food grade drum. This is a surge tank- as the water is not stored. The water flows out a hose and goes directly to the fruit trees.  The brass fitting on the bottom is called a “male pipe thread to garden hose thread” adapter. Drill a 1″ hole in the drum and screw in the adapter. A washer and nut can be added to the backside if you can access the inside of the drum. Otherwise just add silicon to seal the connection. A hose splitter adapter could also be added so two hoses come off the drum. The barrel should be strapped to the house for safety.

The hose is moved around the yard to several fruit trees and ornamental bushes. The ground is amended with compost and mulched with a thick layer of straw.

  • Specifications and Notes: This system is very simple, easy to build and maintain, and does not alter the plumbing of the house. It could work in many rental situations. The one drawback is only one or two places can be irrigated at a time. The kind of soap used should be free of toxins, boron and salt, since it’s going directly out to the soil. Oasis and Ecos liquid detergents are usually used.
  • Maintenance and trouble shooting: The garden hose is moved around the yard. Also, the washer hose is manually moved between the greywater pipe extension (out the window) and the sewer stand pipe if the greywater system is not being used.