Landscape Design for Rainwater Harvesting

Landscape Design for Rainwater Harvesting

rainwater harvesting

Every day, homeowners make smart choices to help conservewater. Harvesting rainwater is a simple, proactive way to create a surplus ofwater with a minimum of effort. Generally speaking, one inch of rain on a 1,000square-foot roof will result in up to 600 gallons of water for harvesters. Thisrainwater can be used in a variety of ways: for lawn and garden maintenance; tosupply domestic needs such as toilet flushing, washing machines, and hot tubs;even to serve as drinking and bathing water. No matter what your needs,rainwater collection can be a benefit to you and your family.

Depending on how you plan to use rainwater, there are twomethods of landscape design for rainwater harvesting. The easiest method, whichcollects water for landscape and gardening use, uses a simple rain barrel.These barrels, with leaf screens and spouts for water distribution, are sold in55 to 75 gallon sizes, but inventive homeowners can also make their own out ofwood, metal, plastic or fiberglass. These tanks have spouts to retrieve waterharvests and screens, which may also be placed over downspouts or gutters, tofilter debris and run-off. Once barrels or cisterns are placed beneathdownspouts, gutters or Rain Chains, gravity will take care of the rest! (Toprevent mosquito breeding and algae growth, rain barrels must stay covered andout of direct sunlight.)

If you plan to use rainwater for drinking, bathing, orwashing, landscape design will be more complex. You will need to install apressurized system to move rainwater from the storage tank into the house, andbecause rainwater is naturally acidic, it must be neutralized with limestonebefore entering a system of copper pipes. Other materials matter too: roofsshould be smooth and non-toxic, like slate, concrete or unpainted galvanizedmetal, and storage tanks must be lined with a PVC liner to keep zinc fromleaching into the water supply. Gutters and downspouts cannot be made with leadsolder or lead-based paint, and in addition to leaf screens they mustincorporate ‘roof washers’, more specialized filters that are placed in thelines themselves. In many cases, cisterns are buried to preserve water quality,but additional filtration and purification systems, such as chlorine or UVlights, are usually necessary. In some industrialized area with poor airquality, rain may never be safe to drink. Be sure to have your waterprofessionally evaluated for quality and check with local officials forregulations on rainwater systems for indoor use.

Whether you live in a drought-affected area or want to enjoyindependence from municipal water supplies, rainwater harvesting is naturalsolution for your water needs. With careful planning, you too can harness thepower of nature in your own backyard.