How do you water your lawn or garden, fill your pond or keep your fountain running?
Chances are you have some type of irrigation system that taps into the water supply of your home. But did you know that there’s an alternative way to generate the water you need? One that’s better for your landscape, better for the planet and better for your budget?
It’s called rainwater harvesting and it’s been around for nearly 4,000 years. It’s a technique used to capture and use rainwater for everything from drinking to bathing and irrigation. Archaeologists uncovered 3,000-year-old cisterns just a few years ago in Israel that are still standing today.
Rainwater harvesting has seen a resurgence in recent years as gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts have turned to this ancient technique for their water needs.
But what, exactly, is rainwater harvesting and why is it such a big deal? Here’s how it works – and why you may just want to consider it for your landscaping needs.
What Is Rainwater Harvesting?
It’s quite simple, really. Rainwater harvesting is capturing and storing rainwater for future use. Typically, a flat surface like a roof is used to divert rainwater into a holding tank where it is then stored until needed.
There are a number of types of rainwater systems that are used in residential areas, but if you’ve spent time and money beautifying your space you may hesitate to add a large holding tank in the midst.
The good news is that today’s holding tanks are a lot less “tank” and a whole lot more aesthetically pleasing. In fact, you can find some that even double as planters so they’ll look perfectly at home beside your house without being an eyesore.
Yes, you’ll need to invest in the initial equipment, but your rainwater collection system quickly pays for itself in the savings you’ll see on your water bill.
Many municipalities across the country implement tiered pricing so that large water consumers pay more per gallon than their lower usage counterparts. If you’ve ever watched your utility bills creep up during the growing season – from water to the electricity required to pump it – then you know the price tag that often goes along with maintaining a healthy landscape.
And if you’ve invested your hard-earned money in designing and building a gorgeous outdoor space, the last thing you want during summer months is a bunch of dried up straw and brown grass.
Rainwater is free, no matter how much you use, and it’s naturally replenishing which makes it perfect for those dry spells.
Avoid Water Restrictions
During unusually dry seasons, your township may implement water quotas or prohibit residents from watering lawns. If you get caught doing it anyway, you could be up for a pretty hefty fine.
But the alternative – a dry, dead landscape – isn’t exactly attractive, either.
Rainwater to the rescue!
If you live in an area where water restrictions typically apply, or if you’re expecting a particularly dry season, you can save rainwater for later use – which is easily replenished when those fast and furious summer torrents sweep through.
It’s Better For Your Plants And Flowers
Water is water – right? Well, if you know the difference between tap water and bottled spring water, you can bet your plants do, too.
Municipal water is typically treated with chemicals like chlorine, which is ok for getting rid of harmful contaminants in drinking water but not so great for the health of your plants.
Many home water filtration systems also add salt and other additives to water to “soften” it, which is nice when you want to lather up your shampoo but can wreck havoc on the roots of your plants.
Rainwater is water the way nature intended it – free of added chemicals and salts and conversely, rich in the nutrients that plants need.
It doesn’t take a huge investment to get started with rainwater harvesting and you can incorporate the tools right into your existing landscape in a completely natural and unobtrusive way. But the payoff can be tremendous. Big savings on water bills, and happy, thriving plant life that’s unmatched by what can be accomplished with your home sprinkler system alone.
If you have questions about how it works or want to talk about implementing it in your space, let us know. We’ve been helping homeowners create and maintain their outdoor dream spaces for over thirty years!