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.
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.
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.