Have Shower...Water Garden

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Introduction: Have Shower...Water Garden

You can have water automatically directed to your garden every time you have a shower. This instructable shows you how to run the water from your shower to your garden. And then how to distribute the water evenly around the garden.


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Please note, this method has only been used on a flowering garden. If I was growing herbs or vegetables, I would not use this method. If you are growing food, you still may find some benefit in using the sunken pots that are mentioned later.
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This method uses recycled roof guttering to act as an irrigation channel in your garden. Your garden will thrive without wasting precious drinking water. All the water is delivered to the root zone which means it is going straight to where it is needed. Water restrictions are becoming more common, so with a little bit of work now, you can still have a healthy garden and feel good about doing your bit for the planet.

I have had this system in place for 4 1/2 years. The soil is a little bit clayey. I was never dedicated to watering and my plants wouldn't thrive and would be lucky to even survive. With this system, the plants get a lot of water with no effort. I thought it would be too much water, but everything is fine so far. No effort has been made to use special shampoos. Just the regular stuff. And the fact that shower water is hot has had no effect.

If your house is on a concrete slab then this instructable is not suitable for you. You may still be able to make your current system of watering more efficient by using the sunken pots.

Step 1: Materials

What you need:

PVC pipe and fittings compatible with the pipes carrying the waste water from your shower. This is likely to be 50mm-2 inch wide pipe.

Small soft drink bottle. (Optional)

19mm-3/4 inch garden irrigation poly pipe. (Optional)

Length of old roof guttering the same length as your garden and similar length of gutter guard.

Old plant pots approximately 18cm-7 inches wide at the top.

Drill, drill bit about 8mm-5/16 inch.

Step 2: Plumbing

Disconnect drainage pipe from shower outlet under your house. Connect your pipe and fittings and run it along underneath your house in a way that pleases you to the edge of the house. Either have a small amount of fall in the pipe from the bathroom to the back of the house with the pipe tied onto the bearers and then use elbow joiners to make a vertical drop to the ground or do the vertical drop underneath the bathroom and run the pipe along the ground. I got my pipe for nothing. That's why it's painted funny colors as it was part of an art 'installation'. You may get lucky if you have some pipe lying around.

Boring, but important to read if you are actually going to make this system.
It is important to use a good length of PVC pipe before you start using the cheap poly pipe. It would be bad if the water from your shower was suddenly squeezed into a very small 19mm-3/4 inch pipe. I didn't try it but there would be a good chance of the water not been able to flow away fast enough and been forced to rise up back into your shower. My PVC pipe runs about 12 meters under the house before it gets to the back yard and joins up with the small pipe. If your bathroom is at the end of the house near your garden, then I'm afraid I can't give you any exact guidelines on how long the PVC pipe needs to be.

Step 3: Linking Big Pipe to Little Pipe

If you don't mind PVC pipe running across your yard then you can skip ahead to Step 5. Steps 3 and 4 are just a way to minimise the visual impact of having pipes running across the yard. If you do use the 19mm-3/4 inch poly pipe, after a couple of years there will be a sludge build up in the poly pipe. It can be disconnected from the PVC pipe and hosed out.

Cut the bottom off a small soft drink bottle so that the bottle fits snugly over the PVC pipe. Put one end of some flexible type garden irrigation 19mm-3/4 inch poly pipe into the neck of the soft drink bottle.

I found a small Coca cola bottle to be perfect. Other brands didn't fit snugly. Things could be different where you are so you may need to experiment. Once you find a brand and size that fits, collect a few in case you need to replace it. Reasons to replace: accident when mowing lawn, curious dog, degradation due to sunlight.

I made this system in late 2004 so unfortunately don't remember the size of the bottle.

Step 4: Getting Water to the Garden

Run the pipe out to the nearest end of your garden bed.

After a few days or weeks,when you are happy with the position of the poly pipe you may decide to bury it. Just take a spade and make a continuous slit in the grass, levering the spade backwards and forwards before moving along. Once you have made the slit across the lawn, just scoop out a little bit of soil with your fingers all along. Then insert your poly pipe in and stomp on the grass.

Step 5: Sunken Pots

Figure out key points along your garden where you want the plants to be watered. My garden is four meters long. I planned on five watering points. Each watering point was designed to be in the center of a cluster of plants. The watering points must be in a straight line. Bury your plant pots at these points. Water will go in them and out the bottom through the drainage holes to the root zone of the plants. I call this the 'Sunken Pot' method. You can use sunken pots if watering with a hose or watering can too. The pots I used were about 18cm-7 inches across at the top. Use whatever you have that is about that size.

Step 6: Water Channel

Lay a length of roof guttering in your garden. I found it easier for Step 7 that involves drilling holes to have the guttering with the flat back side facing the front. As you can see in the first picture it should sit partially over the sunken pots. When I did this I tried to hide the gutter behind my plants. Eventually when the plants grew so much I couldn't see the gutter anymore. Bend up the far end of the guttering so that the water won't run out. Or if you're fancy you could put an end piece on it. Keep your ears open for anyone who is getting new gutters. There should be old lengths with no holes as long as your garden. That's how I got mine. Use what you have. If you have 150mm-6 inch wide PVC pipe, you could use that instead.

Step 7: Water Spurt Points

Drill a hole in the side of the guttering above each sunken pot. This will work better than having the hole in the bottom of the guttering. Holes in the bottom would clog easily. Also having the holes on the side allows the gutter to fill to a certain point before releasing water. Otherwise, with holes in the bottom, the plants nearest the water outflow would get all the water. I found holes 8mm-5/16 inch diameter to be a good size.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Position the end of the 19mm-3/4 inch poly pipe over the near end of the gutter. I found it easy to anchor it in place by inserting it through a brick with holes in it.

Put gutter guard in the gutter. This will keep leaves out and make it easier, but not any nicer for you to pick off any hair balls that accumulate on the gutter guard at the water outflow point.

Step 9: Check Everything

Wait for someone to have a shower. Check that all your connections are secure. Then check your gutter. Check that the water spurts along the gutter are going into the sunken pots. If not, move the gutter back or forwards. Does the gutter need raising in certain areas to make sure that the whole length fills? Mine did. I never had to bend up the end of the gutter near the outflow as it is slightly higher than the far end. If the gutter is reasonably level with just a little fall, then each sunken pot should fill with about the same amount of water. If you decided to use this shower watering system without the sunken pots you would lose the visual cue of checking on each pot to ensure that water distribution is fairly even.

Then enjoy. It's really fun to go out into the garden while someone's having a shower and watch all that water being put to good use. Sounds like a babbling brook too. Very peaceful.

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    39 Comments

    Great idea! I was wandering around the internet looking for ideas for grey water recycling for a house we've just bought in Spain. To save complicated plumbing for the loft conversion I'm doing (all the first floor waste water goes to a tank underneath the floor of the garage - which is beneath the house - which is built into the rock of the hillside!) I want to shift all the new" waste water to the land instead - after all, water is at a premium in a lot of Spain and, perhaps more importantly, I have to pay to have the tank emptied!

    I've got "solids" covered by installing a composting toilet that separates the, err, "solids" and "liquids"(!) but that still leaves me with the grey water from the sinks, shower, washing machine and also those "liquids" to dispose of (For those of you that might be a little squeamish of the thought of recycling such a thing it's extremely good for garden plants and is also sterile!). I'd already decided that I was going to use the waste water to feed some large trough type planters that I'm going to build across the front of the house, as well as a steeply sloping flower garden to the side of the house, but I hadn't quite got the finer point of how to distribute the water evenly or keep the soil from blocking up the drainage pipes but, thanks to you, I have now have a good idea!

    Many thanks!

    i usemy laundry watter on my garden by hulling it to the garden in a plastic barral with hose bib and hook it to aone inch pvc pipe witchi drilled two holes every 10 inches and soak my veg. i have very good veg. buck

    Aw man, I was hoping to be able to do this instructable. Turns out our shower's drain pipe runs straight through the concrete foundation our house is on =(

    My idea, since I take baths instead of showers is to use a suction hose running to a pvc pipe that shoots thru the floor, hangs under the floor joists and runs to a barrel. Drip system from the barrel. I don't use soaps. Just stuff that is certified organics that can only be bought from the internet or a farmer's market locally.

    gemtree, just some ideas for you: I don't think you need a barrel. Even though your bath water is untainted by soaps etc, it's probably best not to store it for too long. So why use a barrel? Just hook the bath water up directly to your drip system so that the water gets used straight away. Barrels make things complicated too as the barrel has to be lower than your bath outlet, but still a little bit higher than your garden. And remember to follow the principles in step 7. That is, block the far end of the pipe and have the holes closer to the top than the bottom. This way the pipe fills with water and then comes out all the holes evenly instead of gushing out of the first hole. It's always good to use what you've got laying around or readily available but I don't think it would be wise to use pipe any less than inch & a half/40mm in diameter.

    Ah, thanks, Bauble, I appreciate the comment but I have a huge yard. If I decant it to a barrel below the deck, the water will flow easier. I just have to siphon the water out of the tub. Save electricity that way. I may be able to use a small pump to get it going then shut it off. I have found once you get the siphon action going, you can turn the pump off and it will continue to drain. Then... have several spigots at the bottom edge of the barrel branching off to several areas of the yard. I have the barrels already. It would be very hard to find gutter that does not cost me an arm and a leg. I also have a spigot or two. I can also decant all the hand washing to the barrel. I am still trying to get the idea in mind but your idea definitely gave me some good ideas. I have learned from a few other 'ibles and actual local people that you need it to be a bit off the ground to get good pressure going from the barrel. I hope to be able to have water from the roof also go to barrels. I just hate wasting all this nice water from my home. Your gutter and hole position ideas really did make sense. I wish I could make concrete gutters but it might be kind of hard to lift them up enough to keep the flow going. But then, maybe larger pvc might work. Got to go look at prices at the local big hardware stores and check my freecycle group.

    For another similar garden watering project I didn't have any old gutters. So I wanted to buy black flexible unslotted agi pipe.

    In a big barn type hardware store, the agi pipe was much cheaper in the builder's section than in the garden section. And wider too, about 2 1/2 inches/65mm which suited me. From memory the builders pipe was about the same price as the garden pipe but twice the length.

    Good luck with all your ideas.

    Thanks for the great inspirations and the advice. It really does help, you know. Especially this last one about the different areas to buy the pipe. :)

    Truly a cool idea!

    Lol @ hairballs! Too funny! Thanks for the warning.