Monday, January 14, 2013

A Greywater Oasis

Or at least, I'm hoping it will become one.

I live in a home with a slab foundation. This means it's really darned hard to access my greywater before it hits the septic tank. My washer is located in the dead middle of the house, making it impossible to run a pipe outside... the showers and baths drain directly into the floor... and only one of my sinks was located next to an exterior wall: the kitchen sink.

So I did what any reasonable man would do. I punched a hole in the wall, ran a piece of PVC from under the sink (after the P trap), put an elbow on it outside and ran it off into a bed of mulch by my banana trees.

I also added some papyrus or bulrushes of some sort, a few malanga plants, and a few more little banana trees.

I didn't  want the water draining directly beside my foundation, so as you can see, I put in a 45 degree bend away from the wall. About 18" down that final piece of pipe, I started drilling lots of little drainage holes. The whole pipe was then laid into a little trench and covered with mulch.

The downside of this plan is that I can no longer use regular dishwasher powder without salting the bananas. So we're washing by hand a lot more and using as little detergent as possible. We'll see how the plants manage. If this is a FAIL, I can always reconnect the water to the septic. But that just seems like a horrible waste. I wish I could get off the septic tank altogether and just run all the house's water into the yard.

Perhaps one day I'll figure it out.

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At January 14, 2013 at 8:04 AM , Blogger Ten at Eat Your Sands said...

Great plan, throw some can as in there when you get a chance. Also you might move the any other bromeliad they don't like roots that are too wet...more of a rainwater and water from above type of plant. :) just a thought.

At January 14, 2013 at 8:05 AM , Blogger Ten at Eat Your Sands said...


At January 14, 2013 at 2:09 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

You're right on the pineapples. You can't tell from the pictures, but they're a tiny bit uphill from the water... and the pipe that cuts over doesn't have any drainage holes in it until about 18" down from them. I've left them there because they need the thermal mass of the wall to protect against frost.

And... I've got some cannas I started from seed but I haven't planted them yet. Good idea.

At January 14, 2013 at 3:14 PM , Blogger Ten at Eat Your Sands said...

youre my gardening hero.

At January 14, 2013 at 6:25 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

If the salt built up too much couldn't you just flush it for a few minutes with tap water? Or perhaps the rainfall would be sufficient... I'm sure it'll be ok; I have a few friends in Miami that have their waste waters drain out into their gardens using all kinds of soaps, detergents, etc, and it seems to thrive. :)

Funny you'd post this as I was considering doing this with my sink just

At January 14, 2013 at 6:44 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

That's good to hear... I'm not sure how much the salts will flush through. Probably pretty well, considering the sandy soil. I know bananas aren't saline-tolerant, so hopefully they do okay. I'm interested to see what kind of growth the area exhibits when the weather gets hot again.

And hey - go ahead and drain your sink out the wall. It's fun!

At January 14, 2013 at 7:39 PM , Blogger said...

Excellent idea! The cannas should do great. And with more hand washing, the electric bill might even come down a bit. Right?

At January 14, 2013 at 8:33 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

It may indeed. Between this, the clothes line, and plenty of no-AC days... Progress Energy is probably feeling the pain.

BTW, Dave - I enjoy your site.

At January 15, 2013 at 8:34 AM , Blogger Leon said...


Some people also add a valve so you can still direct water in the septic when you need to and a way to flush the system, as it will accumulate enough gunk to clog the little holes every once in a while.

At January 15, 2013 at 11:44 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Yes - I've seen that design. Instead of doing that, I made the end cap on the irrigation pipe removable for clean out. Probably a little more labor intensive, but also easier on the plumbing end of things. ;)

BTW, did you go to the Permaculture Convergence? I had to skip it this year.

At January 16, 2013 at 8:07 PM , Blogger Leon said...

I sure did ... Man, I feel like my batteries have been charged 125% :) I was literally bathing in the energy for 3 days there + solved quite a few practical issues just by talking to people, in one case for like 15 seconds. The dude spent 5 years experimenting with things I was just kinda planning to get involved in and just had all the answers already. Amazing. This is from my e-mail to a friend on the subject -

"The Convergence was a blast - I had no idea so much stuff was going on in FL and so many people were doing it. There were about 200 people attending and another 600 or so who are doing something relevant and sent their info but couldn't attend. As it turned out, Pasco is boiling with projects (mostly East Pasco, naturally, but still - I had no idea; Tampa/St. Pete delegation was about 20 people strong). Sumter looked like a dead zone until I told everybody about BSF and it was like magic - this project got so much attention, and so many people offered help - way more than what I expected. This thing actually may have a chance ...

On the Convergence it was decided that we need a FL information sharing/networking website which will include You-tube channel with documentaries about all the projects that are going on and there are people working on that already. It did feel like the movement has reached the critical mass - it's almost a mainstream in some areas already judging by the sheer volume of things going on there - farms, schools, markets ... Mostly big cities, naturally, but still ... "

Are you coming to Agritunity? A friend of mine (who you definitely need to meet, BTW - he's also a plant genius like you) and I will be doing a little intro PC class there. There is usually a bunch of people from your area there and list of classes looks pretty good this year IMHO.

At January 16, 2013 at 8:24 PM , Blogger Leon said...

Oh, and I brought like a 100 chaya cuttings from the Convergence - someone left a big box there after a plant swap and I didn't want them to die :) Planted them in pots already - hopefully I'll be able to find a place where they can survive next winter (this here place has a bit of a weird micro-climate when it comes to cold - stupid I-75 cuts us off from warm and moist air from the Gulf, so we can have 19F when people 10 miles West have 29F). Need to build some sun-traps before Fall.

At July 17, 2013 at 4:52 PM , Blogger SlowBro said...

"So I did what any reasonable man would do. I punched a hole in the wall..."


I thought greywater had to be filtered through a reed bed first?

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