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Collecting rain water should become a priority for every property owner, whether residential or commercial. Just like it is normal to think of planting a beautiful landscape surrounding your structure, it should be normal to think of rain water collection as an extension of your landscape irrigation system.

There are various ways that can be employed in the collection of rain water. The most ideal method depends on the climate you are in, the type of landscaping you have (or are planning to install), the rain patterns throughout a one year cycle, your budget and your desired level of maintenance.

The first and most cost effective way to collect rain water is to store it directly in the ground. This can be done by creating retention basins with the soil in your landscape. Because this process is fairly involved, and can be disruptive to existing landscape, it is usually best to install these simultaneously. The retention basins are sized according to the size of the area to be drained and the amount of rainfall expected on a single rain event. The goal is to create an area that is able to collect water and allow it to infiltrate (percolate) into the ground within a 24 hr. period or less. These basins are then covered with mulch (wood chips and other organic matter) and are practically not visible from the surface. Landscaping is then installed in and surrounding these areas according to their water needs and preferences. The mulch will keep the ground covered and it helps minimize the amount of water that will evaporate through the surface.

These systems are often referred to as rain gardens and the vegetation that is best suited for them are native and local plants that are accustomed to the local weather patterns and the ebb and flow of the local rainfall.

This effectively functions as an underground water reservoir and plants have direct access to the water as needed.

Another option for collecting rain water is to store it in above- or below-ground cisterns. This option can prove more costly but it allows for more control over the distribution to the landscape. In the same way, the size of the cistern is established by the area of water to be collected, the amount of rainfall expected as well as the rain cycles throughout the year. In this case, in fact, it is important to account for the cyclical rhythm of rainfall especially if in your area there are long spells of dry months. In that case it is important to decide what your goal is: are you interested in supplementing water for as long as it lasts or for the whole dry period?.

Care should be taken to check with your local jurisdictions to verify whether the installation of cisterns require a permit. Keeping in mind that most of the time the larger tanks do require permits. Of course this is not a problem when this type of system is integrated with a larger scope construction project.

In both cases it is important to estimate a water budget when designing your landscape and the goal is always to know what the water needs are and then direct any of the resources we receive with rain towards meeting those needs as closely as possible.

Of the two systems the rain garden usually results in less maintenance.

In both cases proximity to the collection area is important and can present opportunity for creative and interesting solutions.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of (or need some reasons why to implement) rain water collection make sure to read “Drought and the Wisdom of Collecting Water”.

Article Source: How to Most Effectively Collect Rain Water –