Stop Wasting Water – Set up a Simple Passive Grey Water System

This post was most recently updated on March 18th, 2020

We are on a tank water supply. So the rumor that it was going to be a hot dry Summer sent chills up my spine. This is our first year with a tunnel house and we are attempting to grow 100 tomato plants, plus other things that need plenty of water.

Please read: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

This post contains affiliate links, this means at no extra cost to you, we make a commission from sales. Please read our Disclosure Statement

We cannot afford to be wasting our water on plants, but I was very aware of the amount of water we were putting through the washing machine with all the household laundry we were doing.

I figured if we could capture the grey water and send it to the plants, it would solve both the issue of flooding out our sewerage field with too much water, as well as providing the plants plenty to drink.

Setting up the grey water system was surprisingly easy and very cheap to do. This is a simple, passive grey water system, we have no tap ware for it inside, but we did install a faucet on the outside barrel which has been helpful.

The hardest part was working out where to put the hole so we didn’t hit the timber in the walls, while still being high enough to miss the taps on the inside. We tested the hole with a small drill before using the hole saw.

We have used:

32mm pipe with 2 90 degree elbows, one for each end.
Clear silicone
Bulkhead Fitting
Screw in faucet
Poly hose
Hose fittings
Soaker Hose

We secured the pipe to the wall with a pipe clamp. Then I simply pushed in the washing machine outlet hose into the grey water system out flow pipe. Make sure it is well tucked in so it doesn’t ping back out. Ask me how I know…

For the outside part of the grey water system we have used a plastic 55 gallon plastic drum that we got from a place in town that has them as scrap.

We built a small stand to raise the water barrel off the ground to add the gravity pull to help with passive emptying. Even though we live on a hill, the area that the vegetable garden is on is almost level with the path around the house.

As we wanted the grey water system to drain passively, we had to add some extra height to the barrel. We get very high winds here, so I used some roof strapping to anchor the barrel to our wall.

grey water system

I drilled a hole in the bottom of the barrel and put a long string with a heavy nut tied to it in the top hole. By tipping the barrel I could pull out the string through the lower hole.

This gave me a line to thread the hose attachment on the inside of the barrel down, then I could pull it through the hole and screw the outside piece on. This guy explains it better than I can with words:

Once the bulkhead was attached we could wiggle the barrel in under the elbow and check it’s position before sealing around the pipe hole on the house wall with a good glob of clear silicone.

grey water system

I also sealed around the bulkhead where it comes out of the barrel.

grey water system

Then I used a long length of black poly hose to take the water out to the tunnel house. At the tunnel house we have a soaker hose already laid under the mulch layer. I simply plugged the two hoses together and Bob is your Uncle.

In theory.

We had a problem.

There is just not enough pressure in this passive grey water system for a slow-leak soaker hose to be able to keep up with the amount of water from all my laundry!

So I resorted to drilling some very small holes in the hose at the base of each plant. This has worked wonderfully. It takes about 2 hours for the whole grey water drum to passively empty to the roots of my greenhouse plants.

You do have to be careful what you put in your laundry if it is going on your plants. We use our own homemade laundry soap.

Do you have a passive grey water system at your place? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Are you keen to join the uprising of the return to traditional ways of life? These 33 traditional skills will help you on your road to self sufficiency.
This recipe uses natural ingredients to create a waterproof coating on the fabric of choice. You can use it to waterproof canvas clothing, shoes, bags, tents, leather, even fabric tarpaulins and wood!
Automatic watering systems take the worry out of watering the animals. An auto waterer can last for several days and it keeps rabbits and chickens from making the water dirty or tipping it out. To make this automatic waterer I used a few things that I had laying around, but you could easily replace these with things you have or can make.
Simple and affordable seed raising table ideas. Can be used as a heated propagation table for growing plants from cuttings, or germinating seeds for the vegetable garden. #piwakawakavalley
Make your own beeswax wraps as an eco-friendly alternative to clingfilm or plastic wrap. This recipe uses jojoba oil and beeswax to make a nice clingy wrap.

We have set up this passive grey water recycling system that feeds my plants while I am busy doing other things. DIY, do it yourself, make your own, recycle, upcycle, shabby chic, aged wood, rustic, DIY home decor, DIY craft, make your own gifts, DIY projects, DIY instructions, #selfsufficiency #blacksmith #diyproject #diyoutdoorprojects

5 thoughts on “Stop Wasting Water – Set up a Simple Passive Grey Water System”

    • Hi Ruthie, yes other water that has only has soap in it is considered grey water – like bath and shower water. Water from the kitchen sink and toilets are considered black water and should go through a septic system.


Leave a comment