Maximize Your Plant Growth with Washing-Up Water

Gardening is a favourite hobby globally, appreciated by people of all ages. Despite appearing as a harmless leisure activity, it has been disclosed that inefficient watering practices can result in the unnecessary consumption of more than 4.5 billion gallons of water each day, through evaporation, wind, and runoff. Luckily, we’re on the cusp of exploring a possible solution to this problem.

Gray Water, or wash water, can safely water our plants and be our holy grail for saving Water. While our dirty dishwashing water may not be appealing to us, our plants will appreciate us for it!

We will discuss this unconventional water-saving method that could save billions of gallons daily.

What is Gray Water, and How Does it Help Plants?

Water conservation saves or recycles Water, as freshwater is becoming increasingly limited. Gray Water is a practice brought to the modern public in the late 1980s to save Water.

According to scientists, by 2050, more than half of the world will live with limited or no access to fresh drinking water (source).

The act of conserving Water through household recycling was an unpopular activity. Many believed that all of the drained residential Water had been mixed with “black water,” contaminated drainage from toilets, making recycling unsafe.

Background on Grey Water

Goleta County in California was the first county to recognize the significant difference in contamination levels between gray and black Water.

Goleta’s water district conservation office wrote a letter to the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors asking that gray Water be legalized for residential use, as its properties differ from “black water.”

The conservation claimed that gray Water’s impurities were not heavily contaminated with feces or urine and could be filtered and repurposed safely.

Properties of gray Water

Properties of gray Water can even make soil flourish, such as phosphates present in detergents that can act as fertilizer.

These findings convinced the board that gray water recycling is a secure conservation method, and by 1992, new laws were legislated, making gray Water legal in 17 western states.

Since then, however, conservation in the form of water recycling has grown increasingly popular.

Residential Water Recycling

While conservation systems of greywater can be installed in residential homes, irrigating recycled Water directly from the source to the yard can be a bit pricey.

These costly conservation systems pump gray and black water to separate central stations and filter the irrigation system’s gray Water.

Having separate drainage to the sewer is imperative when gray Water is not utilized.

How to recycle residential Water – the cheap way

High-end gray water irrigation systems weigh out to be far too complicated and costly compared to manual efforts. Luckily, manually collecting gray Water can be just as easy. Conservationists set up buckets below indoor AC units, wasting lots of Water due to condensation.

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.

Thomas Fuller, Historian

Drip irrigation systems can be directed from these buckets and used manually to water. Bathwater is a relatively clean source of gray Water, usually collected in more significant amounts.

Safely Conserving and Handling Gray Water for use on plants

It is crucial to know where all gray Water was obtained as some gray water can contain chemicals harmful to plants and humans.

Gray Water should always be handled with care and never contact with the eyes, mouth, or skin; if it ever does get on the skin, washing hands with warm water and soap is imperative.

Gray Water containing any food particles can also lead to rodents and bugs in the garden, so collecting and filtering only safe gray Water is essential.

There must also be no sharing of this gray Water when conserving; it cannot get it in any public place. Any stored gray water on an individual’s premises should always be appropriately labeled, and any filtration systems should also be specified.

Gray Water for use with plants

Just like anything else, some practices should be done for proper usage. Below is some important information on the use of gray water for plants.

  • It is always best to use gray Water within 24 hours of collection to avoid bacterial growth. Bacterial growth can affect how plants respond to the gray Water and cause plants to wither.

However, this is only one of many ways to create a DIY filter at home; it is straightforward and cost-effective. It will be explained and described in detail near the end of this article.

Gray Water’s Effect on Plants

As Goleta’s water district conservation office once proved, specific properties in gray water aid plant growth.

Gray Water can contain traces of skin cells, which can significantly aid plant growth as organic material.

In the same way, plants absorb properties from manure; they absorb the elements found in gray Water.

However, it is vital to monitor plants to ensure they are still thriving, as gray Water can be very high in particular chemicals and may treat each plant differently. Also, assess any changes to ensure the issue’s culprit is identifiable.

Water-saving tips for plant use in the garden

In addition, to recycling gray Water, rainwater conservation is just as beneficial.

Many conservationists leave large containers outside, under runoff from their roofing, during rainfall to collect large amounts of Water, and others utilize rainwater storage tanks.

Using rainwater for plants

Unlike gray Water, rainwater has a longer expectancy to remain bacteria-free. The rainwater collected is only as clean as the container it has been stored in, so keep that in mind before ingesting any rainwater.

Opting for water-saving pots is also a great way to conserve Water. Water-saving pots don’t drain Water from the sides, leaving moving Water in the soil and requiring it to be watered less.

Your gardens will significantly benefit from having added mulch to it

Adding mulch to gardens can also save Water by trapping moisture within the mulch and reducing the watering necessary for surrounding plants.

Mulch is also great for preventing weeds from sprouting! Compost can also be used and works similarly by transferring its water supply to the soil it covers.

Using mulch in the garden will save water, prevent soil erosion and weeds, and reduce the work required. I wrote an article about mulch in the garden, and you can read that here.

Swapping lawns for rock and concrete for water saving

One of the easiest and most effective ways to avoid excess water usage is by changing lawns for concrete or gravel. Even reducing the amount of lawn within one’s yard can significantly reduce the Water necessary for upkeeping the growth and color.

Water timer usage can be something to look into for water saving

Finally, keeping a water timer, an electronic device that increases or decreases water flow when placed into a water line, will prove incredibly beneficial.

Whether freshwater or stored rainwater is being monitored regularly, it is essential to the plants’ health not to be overwatered.

Preventing Bacterial Growth in Stored Water when using it for plants

Bacterial growth can form in gray Water after about 24 hours of collection.

Typical bacterial growth in gray Water is algae, which forms when a collection of nutrients is brought to the surface of a body of Water.

Like most plants, algae need sunlight to bloom, so keeping storage containers in the dark and painting storage containers black can help avoid growth.

Mosquito Contamination in gray Water

Mosquitos are also commonly known to contaminate gray Water, as they deem the properties of the Water as suitable breeding grounds. It is unsafe to ingest mosquitos or their larvae, so avoiding them at all costs is of utmost importance.

One way to prevent mosquitoes from entering storage containers is by keeping them in covered, dark places and keeping a layer of olive oil in them.

If mosquitoes get into these containers, the olive oil will keep them from breeding, and because oil floats to the top, rainwater can still be drained from the bottom without oil contamination.

The Future of Recycling and Saving Water when Gardening

The act of saving Water and utilizing it for gardening purposes is still somewhat of a new practice in the modern age; however, studies are showing that homes implemented with water conservation systems save 15-25 gallons of Water every day, ranging from 5,000-9,000 gallons each year, per person!

According to scientists, we only have about 18 years before running out of fresh, clean, usable Water, making water conservation even more necessary.

History is known to repeat itself, and if we have learned anything from the Mayans, we are only given limited water sources.

If water sources become scarce or even contaminated, it could cause much more significant effects on modern life beyond belief.

DIY Filter for wastewater when watering plants

A DIY filtration system could be a great option if manual conservation is utilized.

Below is a list of necessary items used in making this filter, followed by instructions on assembly.

Supplies Needed

Most of these supplies can be found in the home goods department, and the rest can be found in hardware stores in your local department stores.

DrillLarge air filter
A large container (stackable)2-inch grommets
A medium-sized container (stackable) with a lid2-inch wide pipes, in whatever length necessary

Next are the building process and instructions for the filtration system.

Instructions to follow

The medium-sized container will be first looked into in this making process.

  • First, holes should be cut throughout the bottom of the medium-sized container. They should be about 2 inches wide and spread apart. It is also necessary to add one hole of the same size on one side of the container.
  • The air filter should be cut to fit in the bottom of the container., leaving enough room on the sides of the air filter that it curves upward and blocks half of the side holes.
  • A 2-inch hole should be drilled near the bottom on one side of the large container. Insert 2-inch grommets into this hole.
  • Stack the medium-sized container on top of the large container.
  • On the medium-sized lid, drill a 2-inch hole to the top on either side.
  • The top pipe should be connected through the lid and attached to whatever water source (i.e., washing machine, dishwater, etc.)
  • The bottom pipe should be connected through the side hole on the larger container. This pipe can be attached to an irrigation system or under a watchful eye, filtered, and utilized manually.

It is also best to have planned the design on a sheet of paper to look at during this process.

FAQs on Maximize Your Plant Growth with Washing-Up Water

Is gray Water suitable for the garden?
Gray Water is excellent during drought and the possibility of water restrictions. They can be used to water lawns and gardens as long as they are not used for edible plants. Due to the possibility of salt buildup, it is also heavily advised not to use this type of Water on potted plants.

Can I spray my plants with soapy Water?
You can spray nonedible plants with soapy water as long as they are diluted. It is advised never to use soap water containing bleach and refrain from using a water softener and food particles. The former is due to the possibility of sodium buildup, and the latter is to refrain from attracting rodents.

Will gray Water kill trees?
Due to the need to use gray Water immediately, there is a high risk of overwatering and oversaturation of the tree’s soil. This is a danger, especially for drought-established trees like oaks and citruses, as the sudden huge water supply can damage them.

Conclusion Saving Water by utilizing washing up Water on your plants!

With the nearing date of the world not having enough clean water to go by, actively looking into avenues like utilizing gray Water is a good step.

Many countries have already begun water conservation efforts, and we have much to do! Recent studies have also been of Moringa oleifera, the Mallungay, and even sawdust that can be utilized to remove specific pollutants (source). Hopefully, with technology and humanity going hand in hand, we can find more ways to take special care of our Water so that everyone in need can easily access it.

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