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Hi folks! In the planning stage for a branched-drain system. Initially at least it’ll take our shower output via a three-way diverter. Probable to add output from our front-loading clothes washer, if I can find a compatible detergent that SWMBO will approve.

So question is: how does one determine size of mulch basins to accommodate anticipated flow? I expect 40 gallons a day from the shower, say 50 to over-capacitize. How big a basin or basins do we need, and what are the guidelines so I can plan for future expansion?

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Hi Ben,

I think your first step should be to determine how many plants you can irrigate with the water and check to see if you can logistically irrigate them all, and then you’ll know how many basins you will have, and then you can determine how large to make them- it depends on the quantity of water and soil type. I’m assuming you want to irrigate with the water….

Depending on your climate and the size/types of plants you’ll be irrigating you’ll send a fraction of the flow to each plant. Let’s say you split the flow into 8 outlets, so 40/8 = 5 gallons per outlet. If this was a good match for your plants then you’d size the basins for around 5 gallons per outlet. If you were in clay soils this would require a minimum of 5 square feet in the bottom of the basin, and less in more quickly draining soils. (You should always give yourself extra capacity, so make the basins larger than the minimum.)

There is a lot more info on how to do these calculations in my book, The Water-Wise Home.

Good luck!


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