Written by Laura Edwards, Program Director US-LT RCD
Hot, rainless summer days make planning for rain catchment seem senseless. It’s not! Rain barrels and/or cisterns should be a staple for every home in California! This is the time to get great deals on rain saving products. Prices can range from $25 to $4,000 depending upon the size and style of the cistern you buy. It doesn’t have to be a glamorous affair, although I have seen some very unique and fun styles out there. It can be a great way to dress up or dress down your landscape.
Last year I installed 5 rain barrels on my house. I don’t want to hassle with taking them down so I try to integrate designs that can work year-round, like this flower planter style (left).
Next time, however, I will use larger cisterns. My barrels captured 55 gallons each (825 collectively) during 3 storms with 1″ precipitation, equaling 275 gallons per storm. It takes me about 3 weeks to use all the captured water in my drought tolerant garden. Therefore, larger cisterns could literally water a well-planned garden for an entire summer, with the right size catchment and pumping capacity. Calculate volume of rainfall with this nifty calculator tool.
Did you know?
• “Normal” Rainfall is slightly acidic (average pH of 5.6, origin pending) – great for roses!
• Use filters to trap sediments and debris BEFORE it goes into your tank.
• Raise your cistern at least 12 – 48” off the ground, for better cistern drainage.
• Install an outflow hose at the top of the cistern for excess water from heavy storms (avoid flooding garden areas immediately adjacent to the home. A long hose can be run to a well-drained area to relieve excess storage).
• Summer watering is expensive! Don’t delay in planning for this winter’s rain catchment.