The Guild Report:   
Thinking About Graywater?       

March 2014  
In This Issue
Point of View
Prevent Standing Water
What is Graywater
Graywater Benefits
Soaps to use & avoid
Man Cycles Across the Bay
Quick Links

Point of View
Employee Owner

Karin Calvo

"It's been seven years since I started with Gardeners' Guild at began working at one of San Francisco's important public parks.  I'm so proud and motivated when everyday tourists and visitors from everywhere take pictures.  They don't expect that a woman is part of the great team maintaining this unique and beautiful place!  Thank you GGI for the opportunity. "


We thank Karin for her hard work and enthusiasm. 

Prevent Standing Water

If you have a graywater system, be aware of any standing water on your property.  If you are storing water make sure your container is covered to restrict mosquito access.

Mosquitos are not only annoying, but they can spread West Nile virus.


West Nile (or WNV) is a serious disease that may or may not show symptoms.  Some people react with headache, vomiting, nausea, skin rash and other evidence. 


A very small percentage can develop more serious form of the illness.




Gardeners' Guild Our Planet
See the video on our sustainable program!

I can't help it.  Every week I check to find out about the latest rain forecasting wisdom.

In spite of our recent storms, drought conditions still apply.  Unfortunately, March was well below average in terms of precipitation.  Sierra snow is again at record low levels.  The good news - there are more innovative products and practices to save water. 

One method of saving water is graywater recycling.  There are kits you can buy to DIY, but they are complicated enough so we recommend hiring someone to install it.  This month we will focus on what is called the "Laundry to Landscape" system.  We install them - so call us if you have any questions about it.

All the best,
Gardeners' Guild Inc.
What is Graywater?  
It is water from your washing machine, showers or bathtub.  It does not include waste water from toilets, urinals, kitchen sinks, dishwashers or soiled diapers.

About 50-80 percent of household water is graywater.

Greywater or Graywater can be used to irrigate landscapes, wetlands and can be diverted to leach or disposal fields.  As long as it is managed properly, graywater should not present any health hazards.

What Graywater is not - reclaimed water.  Reclaimed water is waste water that is treated to remove impurities.  It can also be used to irrigate landscapes, but we won't be discussing it in this issue. 
Benefits of Graywater    

There are many benefits to graywater recycling for irrigation.  It keeps this water out of your sewer or septic systems reducing the chance it will pollute our local waters.  It can also help promote plant growth in areas where plants might not normally receive sufficient water.

Specifically is may also:
  • Decrease houehold sewage bills
  • Facilitate LEED certification (1 point)
  • Graywater contains soil building nutrients
  • Reduces demand on our local fresh water source
  • Lower water and sewer bills 

Guidelines and Tips

About Permitting

Under the State of California greywater code, as long as the you follow a set of guidelines a permit is not required.   You may want to check with your municipality first.


Graywater irrigation is for subsurface irrigation only.
Don't allow graywater to pool anywhere.  Standing water will attract mosquitos.
Don't store graywater any more than 24 hours.

Plants that like Graywater

Graywater is best for ornamental and fruit trees, bushes and shrubs.  It can be used to irrigate berry patches (not blueberries), large annuals, perennials and certain vegetables.

Plants that don't like Graywater

Lawns, small or potted plants, raised beds are not a good bet.
Do not irrigate with graywater any crop whose edible part touches the soil. (For example, root vegetables or lettuce).

Soaps to Use   

Best practices include using plant-friendly soap products.
Soap is preferable to detergent and liquid is better than powder.

Keep in mind the following:
  • Biodegradable*
  • Non-toxic
  • Chlorine free
  • Sodium and Boron free

*Biodegradable doesn't necessarily mean garden friendly though.  Always read the ingredients.

Most hand and dish soaps will not damage plants at a low residential concentration.

Some soap alternatives include:  soap nuts, wonder balls.

Man Bicycles Across the Bay*     
For more info

Mill Valley resident Judah Schiller was determined to find a way to cross the bay on his bicycle. 

He purchased a "water bike" kit from Italy and founded BayCycle Project whose goal is to develop affordable water bike kits by 2015. 

In 2013, Schiller biked across the Hudson River, from NJ to Manhattan.  It took him one hour to pedal the 8mile span from Oakland to San Francisco.  Not bad considering how traffic can impact car travel on the bridge.  For more information.

*Taken from Huffington Post, October, 2013