Water access is key to the capacity and quality of a garden. But public water isn’t always available. Even heavy rainfall areas like Portland are predicted to exceed supply eventually. Installing a water reclamation system is far less daunting than it sounds, and can deliver a year-round water supply for happy gardening.
Chances are your property already has some parts of a water reclamation system. A rooftop can potentially capture thousands of gallons of water per year - more than enough to maintain a stunning garden. Click here to use a rainfall calculator and find out how much water you are missing out on without a water reclamation system – even in an arid region.
The most important component, after the roof, is the gutter, which runs along the eves of the house. Gutters utilize downspouts to channel roof water into storm drains. Alternatively, downspouts can divert water to a rain barrel, which usually has about a 70 gallon capacity. A rain barrel at each corner of the house can reclaim lots of water for future use.
Rain chains are an aesthetic alternative to conventional downspouts, but every bit as functional for water reclamation. The difference is that rain chains offer a variety of styles to fit any taste. Rain chains consist of a series of tiny cups, funnels, or ornamental sculptures that convey rain in tiny waterfalls to a rain barrel, basin, saucer or pebbled area. Designing a garden with rain chains as part of a reclamation system can transform it from ordinary to ornamental.
Using rain chains with rain barrels or other receptacles can afford you an opportunity to create a “rain garden”. Rain gardens utilize plants that absorb excess moisture that gathers around the source. Some great rain garden candidates include Sugar Maple, Indigo Bush, Red Chokeberry, and a variety of lush ferns.
Rain garden or not, runoff is still likely to occur. Make sure to create natural irrigation systems by altering terrain levels to channel water to plants further from the source. Rain barrels can be used with soaker hoses to distribute water to drier areas, like succulent or less-thirsty flower beds, without relying on pumps. Incorporate decorative sloped retaining walls, planted with water-loving plants, to help reduce storm drain runoff.
A water reclamation system combining rain chains, rain barrels and varied terrain for irrigation not only saves money on bills, it assures a consistent water supply. It also keeps plants happy and results in a unique landscape; a mini ecosystem that reflects the surrounding environment. To friends and neighbors, though, it just looks beautiful.