Botanica Atlanta | Landscape Design, Construction & Maintenance


Atlanta Garden Design

Harvesting Rain Water

Posted by Stuart DiNenno on June 11, 2008 at 3:16 PM

Rain barrels are probably the most common way capture water from a storm to use in the landscape. There are many situations though where a homeowner wants to save water, but they also want discrete collection containers.


The main source of collectible water is from downspouts.  Rain that falls onto the roof follows down the slope of the roof line and is diverted into the gutters, then into the downspout. From there the water is taken away from the foundation and usually drained into storm sewers. Older homes could find that the water is diverted to a low spot on the property which floods when you get heavy storms.


This water is the prime source of collectible landscape water. 


When designing a rainwater capture system for your landscape there are a few considerations, the prime one being ? where do you want to water?  If your favorite perennial border is 75 feet from the collection point, you will need hoses or even buckets to get it from the point of collection to the point of use. This is the major drawback with rain barrels. A rain barrel is collecting at the base of the downspout, which is next to the house.  For foundation plantings and things close by this is an adequate source of supplemental water.  However, for plants on the far side of a pool, you would have to string ugly hoses around the pool to water the landscape, and that is not quite so convenient.


This is where alternative collection sites need to be sited.  Funneling the water from the house to a distant collection point needs to be designed carefully.  Water can easily be backed up and cause your basement to fail.  Remembering that water needs to flow downhill is critical, and for most landscapes this requires the collection tank to be sited below ground.  Capacity of the tanks will vary but even fountains can be sustained by larger tanks. 


Once you have the collection side of the operation organized, then you can deal with the delivery.  Unless your garden is down hill from the tank, you need to use a pump to get the water to where you want it. A simple sump pump mechanism will work to evacuate the water from the cistern, but a stronger pump is required if you want sufficient pressure to carry the water along soaker hoses and around the garden.  A tap that has a hose nozzle fixture is the most convenient and this requires an electrical line for power.  Simply activate the pump to get the water flowing through your hoses.


Overall water collection for use in the landscape is not only needed on those hot dry summer days, but with the environmental and climate concerns being important too, having someway to sustain a landscape without using public water is imperative.


For more information on storing water in cisterns check:



Categories: Water Management