The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Create an Oasis with Greywater

Create an Oasis with GreywaterCreate an Oasis with Greywater seems to be the primary text available on the subject, so if you want to deal with wastewater in an alternative manner, you'll need to get your hands on a copy.  The book is self-published, but the only negative I can come up with is that the interior layout isn't very enticing --- too little white space on the page.  However, I think that Art Ludwig chose the design intentionally so he could fit 300 pages worth of information into a 144 page book, thus cutting down fewer trees and selling the book for a more reasonable price.

That small caveat aside, Create an Oasis with Greywater is a masterpiece.  The fifth edition is completely polished, easy to read, and full of useful information for everyone from the ramshackle DIYer (that's me) to folks living in mansions who want to hire someone to create a high tech lawn irrigation system connected to their washing machine outflow hose.

Greywater systemIn case you've never run across the term before, "greywater" is all of the waste water coming from your house except from the toilet.  The water flowing down the drain of your kitchen sink is definitely not potable, but is generally pretty low in harmful bacteria and can be easily and safely treated with low tech options that irrigate your plants at the same time.  In addition to helping your plants, channeling your greywater to a separate location from your blackwater means you use less energy to treat the latter, which is good for the environment.

To make the best use of greywater, you'll need to be careful with what you put down the drain (something you should be doing anyway), and to understand your specific site conditions and climate.  The rest of this week's lunchtime series will cover a few of the greywater treatment methods that appealed most to me, but I highly recommend finding this book for yourself if you want to delve deeper into greywater systems.

Weekend Homesteader covers the other side of sustainable water use, explaining how to capture rain in a barrel and use it on your garden.

This post is part of our Create an Oasis with Greywater lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

I bought this book seven years ago when I built my house, and I still find myself referencing it. We have had very few problems with the system, and the ones we have are a result of me second guessing Art. Don't do that.

I highly recommend this book.

Comment by Eric in Japan Mon Aug 13 22:09:40 2012
Eric in Japan --- Which of his systems did you use? Did you post about it on your blog? I'm very curious to hear more about it! (Maybe if you haven't posted about it, you can now? :-) )
Comment by anna Tue Aug 14 07:41:46 2012
It's been a hot dry summer in Ontario. There has been rain in the last week, but June was very dry and it set back a lot of crops. I've been touring and volunteering on organic farms all summer -- I keep hearing about grey water systems -- not installed yet, but people talking about how to do it, especially how to adapt traditional houses to a greywater harvesting system. I read Solviva ( -- she does greywater recycling, too.
Comment by J Tue Aug 14 10:03:26 2012

J --- Greywater systems are tougher in climates like yours and ours where it gets cold during the winter, which is probably why you hear about so many systems in the planning stages but few in the implementation stages. Stay tuned for later posts in the series that walk you through some potential solutions to that problem.....

Sounds like a fascinating summer touring organic farms!

Comment by anna Tue Aug 14 11:50:19 2012

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.