Summers can be a killer in the garden when water is scarce. Leaves burn, plants die, lawns brown off, pot plants cook, and sadly, mature and established trees stress and sometimes also die. Eventually the rains come, and it only takes a few downpours to forget the harsh realities of summer in Australia.
It is always a good time to think ahead to next summer, what it might bring, and how you could support your garden better by investing in rain water storage to supplement your watering. Every gardener, and homeowner for that matter, should assess whether they are doing everything they can to collect rainwater, as now is the time to act – when rain water tanks are readily available and so is the rain to fill them. Remember that the use of rainwater on your garden is not subject to any restrictions, provided that it is not supplemented by mains water.
There are many rainwater tank options available ranging from the traditional round galvanised, to modular panels that can be connected together, and even flexible bladders that can be sited under decks or in previously wasted spaces. When building a new home, consider your options prior to building rather than as an afterthought. Also be realistic if choosing smaller tanks. Their limited storage capacity may not provide any real help with watering, but they can be used as an adjunct to mains water, perhaps to water your vegetable garden or your pot plants more frequently than water restrictions may allow.
There are two common objections when it comes to rainwater tanks. The first is “I don’t have the money”.
Your garden contributes to 10% of your total property value, therefore letting the garden die on a $300k property reduces its value to $270k. Investing several thousand dollars to purchase decent sized tanks is a small investment to maintain property value.
The second objection is “I don’t have the space”.
It can be harder to fit tanks into an existing garden and you may need to sacrifice a little garden space or use wasted space such as the side of a house by placing a line of modular tanks or use tanks as a retaining wall. The possibilities are endless!
We must also revisit what we do with our stormwater runoff. Rather than shoot it off your property as fast as you can, instead try to let it move as slowly as possible to allow it a chance to soak back into the ground and recharge the subsoil moisture. Create rain gardens, dry riverbeds lined with pebbles or even dig out natural looking hollows where stormwater can be delayed in the short term, again allowing it to soak back into the ground. Permeable driveway and path surfaces, such as permeable paving, gravel and sawdust, are also preferable to large areas of hard impervious surfaces for this reason.
Then there’s also grey water which is the waste water from your household which is also too good to waste, but more about that next time…..