Will soapy water damage our plants?

August 5, 2010

A question that is frequently asked of us when we are called to quote on a greywater irrigation systems is, “Will soapy water damage my plants?”

Like in all areas of life there are ways to misuse everything and grey water is no exception. When grey water is filtered properly and used correctly, grey water will do no damage to your plants or vegetables, non at all. Let me explain.

grey water systems

Greywater irrigation ~ exempt from water restriction

For many garden enthusiasts wanting to go green or save money, greywater irrigation is the obvious choice. It allows them to keep a green garden in the driest summer, exempt from water restrictions. This is the beauty of your greywater system — A gardeners peace of mind.

Greywater has a natural tendency to nourish your plants as many soaps contain vital nutrients most ofter found in fertilisers (Nitrogen, N; Potassium, K; Phosphate, Ph). It is just the nutrient ratio that is different. That said I do need to add a quick warning. Washing powers frequently contain high levels of phosphates that build up in the soil over time and this can threaten your plants.

Household cleaners:
Several household cleaners contain bleach (chlorine) and other harsh chemicals. These do kill earthworms and plants alike. However we have found many of our customers were already thinking of switching over to eco-friendly products that don’t contain harsh chemicals. These eco-friendly products are gaining popularity and as a result more manufactures are bringing out their own eco-friendly range of product.

For those of us that are concerned about our vegetable tasting like soap. Allow me to ease the fear. The soap in grey water does not get absorbed in the leaves of your lettuce or your cauliflower. nutrient absorbtion is the job of the roots that are naturally designed to only absorb the nutrients the plant needs, not the soapy taste. We rinse all our shop bought fruit and vegetable before we eat them and there is no reason why this would be any different for garden grown vegetables either.

Here lies my only caution. Fynbos like soils that are poor in nutrients and tend to flourish in dryer climates. This does not mean you should not greywater your fynbos garden, but rather avoid using cleaning products that are high in Phosphates, (Skip, Surf, Omo) or harsh chemicals. If you stick to the eco-friendly products your protea’s will be happy with the water they receive as long as you do not over water them.

If after this we were still not able to put you at ease but your still searching for ways so you won’t have to rescue your garden this summer. We invite you to give us a call or send us an email. We know what a great looking garden says about you so get you free quote.

We hope this clears matter up.

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