July 10, 2015
Water in the Landscape
Adding water to your garden creates a relaxing atmosphere to come home to after a long day at work. Something about the sound of running water puts people into a relaxed state of mind. Short on space? Fountains are a great way to add a water feature into your space, while taking up little real estate in your garden. For those who have plenty of space, your options increase immensely. Other features include pondless waterfalls and streams, full-scale pond ecosystems, or the latest trend… rainwater harvesting systems. All of these options are excellent ways to increase the value of your landscape and the enjoyment you will get from it.
For those with smaller landscape sites and tighter budgets, fountains are becoming a popular element in residential landscapes. Fountains offer the relaxing sound of running water, provide a draw for birds and other wildlife, and are a much less time consuming to install than other water features. Options in this category range from small table top fountains to container water gardens to larger, stand alone fountains, bubblers and spitters.
Of course there is always the option of turning your backyard into your own private oasis with a complete ecosystem pond or pondless waterfall/stream. Nothing quite like coming home to relax to the sights and sounds of water in a garden paradise. Contrary to popular belief, properly designed and installed water features actually require little maintenance. The circulation system, filtration system, fish, plants and gravel all work in combination to provide the perfect balance for these micro ecosystems. An occasional filter cleaning and a complete spring cleaning is basically all that is needed to keep your pond in great shape. Pondless waterfalls/streams are good options for people who prefer the sounds of running water without the pond environment of plants and fish.
As the push for our communities to become more environmentally friendly continues, many people are searching for ways they can do their part, too. New products and technologies emerge every day in the race to become green: from solar electric generation to wind electric turbines to electric and hydrogen-powered automobiles. What about water? What can we do to conserve one of our most precious natural resources? The answer… rainwater harvesting. This process collects rainwater that falls on roofs, driveways, sidewalks, and other impervious surfaces, for use later in irrigation practices. Wouldn’t it be nice to lower utility bills by not wasting drinking water to water your plants, lawn, or even wash your car? That is exactly what these systems can do for you.
There are several different ways to collect excess rainwater runoff. The easiest is rain barrels. Tanks or barrels are placed beneath the gutters on your home to collect the water that runs off of the roof. Attached to these collection tanks is a spigot to connect a hose to use the water for irrigating containers and other planted areas. Rain barrels in sizes ranging from 50 to 100 gallons. While the designs and styles of the barrels have come a long way since first being introduced, you may not want to look at large collection tanks at the corners of your home.
If that’s the case, an underground storage tank may be more appropriate. Based upon the same principles as the rain barrel, this system involves burying a large tank underground and running pipes from downspouts and other water collection facilities on your property. Components can be added to filter the water and pump back out for use on lawns, planting beds and containers.
Irrigating your landscape with rain water provides several key benefits: rich nutrients decrease dependency on fertilizers; helps avoid strict watering guidelines during drought periods; decreases utility bills including city storm sewer charges, and lowers the demand on municipal water systems.
Did you know?!
• One inch of rainfall over a residential roof of 2,000 sq. ft. can generate 1,250 gallons of recyclable rainwater. A home that receives 32” of rain per year can collect 41,000 gallons of water.
• The average household with a lot size of 10,000 sq. ft. uses 5,000 gallons of water per week for landscaping purposes.
• Running a sprinkler for two hours will use up to 500 gallons of water.
Originally published in the 2011 Landscape edition of Picket Fences
Greg Hebel | Landscape Design & Sales