July 23, 2014

Does your lawn require a lot of attention and water to maintain? Are you tired of your high water bills? Is your vegetable garden dying from lack of enough water? Are you looking for a way to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly? Then a landscaping project that involves rainwater harvesting is for you. Tap the clouds instead of your wallet.

Harvesting rainwater, in the Ann Arbor area, can be simple and highly beneficial. There are three main areas to be concerned about: the collection area, the transportation area, and the storage area. Once these three areas are addressed, the rainwater can be utilized using either above or underground systems.

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Benefits of Using Rainwater

There are numerous benefits to using rainwater instead of treated tap water to water the lawn and garden.

These benefits include:Rain Barrel
• reduced runoff, reducing erosion issues caused by dripping water
• reduces the impact on local watershed and conserve precious water resources
• conserving water means saving money

Furthermore, rainwater is clean and typically free of any harmful minerals or contaminants. It also doesn’t contain chlorine or fluoride, so it is safer for plants. Harvesting rainwater is particularly beneficial in areas that have water restrictions or extreme rain/drought cycles.

Collection Area

Rainwater can be collected from any area that it doesn’t directly hit and soak into the ground. This includes:
• roofs of houses, sheds, or other buildings
• awnings
• hanging/spread out tarps
Roofs are by far the most common collection area. Roofs made of metal or concrete/asphalt typically yield a higher collection rate, but a roof of any material will lead to at least some collected water.

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Transportation Area

The transportation area consists of rain gutters and downspouts. The transportation area can be made of metal or plastic and simply needs to be large enough to carry the water to the storage area in an effective manner. It should also include a filter at the top of the downspouts; without this filter, there is the risk of the downspouts becoming clogged with leafs or other debris, greatly reducing the amount of rainwater that can be collected.

Storage Area

The storage area is the container(s) where the rainwater is stored until it is needed during dry times. The container can be:
• a buried cistern
• a plastic barrel designed for rainwater storage
• repurposed containers such as large plastic chests or garbage cans
• hand built
Barrels should be placed below the downspout(s). For a gravity-pressurized system, raise the barrels higher off the ground using cinderblocks or other material. Try to place at least one rain barrel under the downspout closest to the garden or area needing the most watering. Since the containers only hold so much, there is a limited capacity for storage of rainwater. A piece of water hose can be used to connect containers for more storage.

Using the Water

The easiest way to utilize the harvested rainwater is to attach a water hose at the base of the container and attach a sprinkler, drip/soaker hose, or other attachment to the hose. A timer can also be attached to automate the lawn watering.

A more sophisticated system can be built using a sump pump and PCV pipe or flexible black pipe. It’s advised to first sketch out the underground irrigation system before digging narrow trenches and installing the pipe with sprinkler heads.

Instead of wasting water and money, just take the free water from the sky to nourish your lawn and garden.

For more information about how to reduce your water consumption, contact Twin Oaks Landscape today