Storing harvested water for use during dry periods is a sustainable way to water. Storage systems capture rainwater from the roof and pipe it to a nearby tank; when it's needed, the water is pumped out of the tank into an irrigation system. (Better yet, you can allow gravity to do the job, which eliminates electricity use and a layer of technology.)
tBER The advantage of storing rainwater is that you can use it during the dry season, when the plants need it most. Because of the cost of the tank and related equipment, the storage method is costlier than the nonstorage method in the preceding section. Water storage isn't for everyone. Choose to store water if you can afford to, if you have the space for a tank, and if you're willing to do a bit of maintenance to keep the system operating (see Chapter 10).
The storage method centers on a cistern, an aboveground or underground tank made of brick, concrete, or plastic (see Figure 7-5). A cistern is connected to the roof drains of the house and other buildings. It incorporates screens to keep the vermin out, an overflow line for excess water, and sometimes a first-flush system to divert the dirty water from the first rains away from the cistern. Water is then gravity fed or pumped into a drip or other distribution system.
You can store a bit of rainwater in salvaged 55-gallon drums placed beneath your downspouts, of course, but that quantity of water doesn't go very far when you're irrigating an entire landscape. Similarly, you can store water in open ponds, an old swimming pool, or your kid's red wagon — but shoot, I'm talking about a real system here, one that will serve your needs and last a long time.
JNG/ I strongly recommend that you do a lot of research on cisterns before you jump in (figuratively, I mean). Any number of things can contaminate stored water, so the type of cistern system I describe in this section is not meant to supply water for personal use such as drinking, cooking, and bathing; the water is intended for the landscape only. Other wicked little hazards include people drowning because the lid wasn't locked, poorly made or incorrectly installed tanks collapsing, and flooding due to tank or component failure.
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How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.