The increase in droughts across South Africa has resulted in an urgent call for all South Africans to become waterwise and find alternative water sources. If you have a garden that you intend to maintain, you may find it difficult to reduce your daily water consumption. Luckily, the use of greywater can be incredibly effective in nourishing the garden and is a sure way to save on water bills.

One of the areas in the home that takes a vast amount of water to maintain is the garden. Statistically, between 31-50% of South Africans’ household water usage is spent on garden maintenance. If you want to maintain your gardens while being more waterwise you will need to find alternative watering methods, such as using water that would normally flow down the drain as a way of reducing your water consumption and your water bill.

With the average daily water consumption per person at 237 litres daily, a family of four could use as much as 346,020 litres every year, most of which will end up down the drain. Instead of allowing this water to go to waste, below are a few tips on how to use this grey water to maintain your garden:

  1. Avoid using wastewater from the kitchen and toilet

Greywater is wastewater from baths, showers, sinks, and appliances such as the washing machine or dishwasher. It does not include water from the toilet system or kitchen water, as the substances in these water systems (such as oil or fats) can be harmful to plants.

  1. The residual soap won’t harm your plants

While some people might be worried that the soaps in the water will harm their plants, the residues and soaps in their diluted quantities provide useful sulphates and nitrates that are more beneficial than using water straight from the tap.

  1. Don’t keep greywater for longer than 24 hours

Bacteria is another concern when using greywater; however, if the water is used within 24 hours, there is no need for concern. Another way to minimise possible odours is by directing the water as close to the plant’s roots as possible. If the water does not infiltrate properly into the soil, it will create a pool of greywater, which creates a mosquito breeding ground as a result of the bad odour.

  1. Always consider the size of your garden

The size of the garden and watering requirements will determine the type of greywater system that the household requires to maintain the garden effectively. Ideally, the system should allow water to run back into the sewer system if required – this would be necessary during periods of high rainfall.

For small gardens, a tankless water diversion system would be the best option. This system uses water waste as it flows through the drain. For larger gardens, install a more involved system where the greywater is channelled into a tank with a filter. The filter is imperative if the water is going to be used on fruits and vegetables. Tankless or not, both systems can be connected to the existing plumbing and are simple to install, provided the plumbing outlets are easily accessible. Some companies provide DIY kits with detailed installation manuals. Alternately, homeowners can hire a reputable plumber to get the job done.

Repurposing water waste can sound daunting at first, but it is in your best interest to invest in a greywater system. The use of alternative water sources is not only a way to maintain the garden during times of drought but is also a way to invest in the value of the property. You can evaluate the benefits of using alternative water sources by getting in touch with a real estate professional who can advise on how these eco-friendly, water-wise additions will improve the property value.