A Waterwise Garden – Creating a Grey Water System

17/February/2016
Barbara Mueller

Barbara Mueller lives in Philadelphia, a small town along the N7 towards Malmesbury. She is the author of The Gardening Blog, where she documents the trials and tribulations she experiences as she builds a working country garden, complete with edible veggie, herb and fruit garden.

Barbara undertook installing a grey water system in order to direct used household water into the garden and reduce the need for watering. Since we are experiencing such high temperatures currently, as well as serious water shortages, this is a very important DIY project to consider if you can.

Barbara shares the details, along with step-by-step photography, of how her grey water system was put together.


We have been planning this simple grey water system for quite sometime – it needed to be simple and cheap to do. We decided to use a collection box to trap the grey water and direct it to the veggie patch through a system of pipes. These pipes are the average plumbing pipes that you can get at any hardware store. It works like a drip system and spans the length of the 12m veggie patch.

02 GREYWATER 14aThe two outlet pipes on the left come from the first bathroom shower and basin and the other two outlets come from the en-suite bathroom shower and basin. The first bathroom is where we will collect the water for the veggie patch in the black plastic box. Building a Grey water system In this bathroom we will rinse only and use organic soap. The other bathroom we will use to scrub up and shower and wash hair and do the necessary – these pipes will flow down straight through the black collection box and out to the bottom. This water will not be collected.Building a Grey water system You can see the grey water pipe coming out from the box – this is for the garden (I’m measuring it!). Precise measurements are always needed for a job well-done.Building a Grey water system Here the water will travel down and across to the veggie patch. You can see all the lengths of pipe waiting to be connected. The angle has to be correct so there is always a downward movement of water and no block ups. Don’t worry – we did a test in our planning! The black collection box just rests on the plumbing drain. This will keep it easy to clean.

Now here you can see the neat cement job and the neat way the pipes come out of the wall. My hubby had to re-do the shoddy workmanship of the previous plumber – so this was a necessary DIY job. There is an opening at the bottom of the box – an outlet and plug, like in a sink.Building a grey water systemBuilding a Grey water system If it is in the middle of winter, I can release the water to flow directly into the drain – so not to over-water the garden. Smart, right? Here you can see three pipes collecting into the bin and the right pipe going through to the drain. All neat and finished off with a lid.Building a Grey water system Now you can see how the outlet pipe from the black collection box is hidden under the stones. It travels up slightly before turning to the veggie patch and the pipe comes back up to the surface. The exposed pipe has holes drilled at the bottom (you can see the black dot drawn on top to locate it). The pipe rests on stones to prevent dirt clogging up the drip holes.Building a grey water systemThe grey water does not come into direct contact with the plants or their leaves, so it is very safe. It drips into the ground and I have created furrows for the water to travel down to the end, giving good spread of water, as you don’t want it to pool in one spot.
Building a Grey water system We are very proud that the grey water system is now in place and no more waste of precious, usable water. Our Jojo Tank is in place as well, so this garden is truly water wise. We all need to be aware of how precious water really is and to be mindful as to how we use it sensibly. Everyone can do their small part to store it, save it and use it wisely!

Delicious produce is grown in healthy, living soil. The #Harvesttotable series is brought to you by Reliance Compost.