Written by: Karlee May, Digital Media Coordinator
Did you know fifty percent of summer water usage goes towards outdoor usage? There are cheaper, and eco-friendly options for lawn management and garden care through out the hot days of summer. A free and healthy alternative to tap water is so abundant it literally falls from the sky: rain water. Rain water is warm and chlorine free, unlike tap water, so it is healthier for plants. Rain water flows off impervious surfaces like roofs, driveways, and pavement into storm water drains. The water spills into the storm water drains instead of staying on the property and sinking into the ground water system. The storm water system becomes over burdened in high impact events and causes flooding. Water diverted into the storm water drains is directed into rivers and larger bodies of water with little to no treatment. In that case the rain water collects pollutants and dumps it into our drinking water. Storm water systems are often over burdened, which raises municipal taxes, so that the system is managed and old infrastructure updated.
How can we, conscientious members of the community and the natural world, meaningfully impact this system? Do the efforts of an individual impact the environment? The answer is yes: when a home owner uses Low Impact Development–an approach that manages storm water by working with nature, the home owner will reap personal benefits, and benefits for the environment. Personal benefits include savings on bills, lawn care, and an increase in value of the home. Benefits for the environment includes a diminished impact on the storm water system, improved water quality, and lastly, a can save money on bills, lawn care, lower strain on the storm water system, increase value of the home, improve water quality, and, lastly, reduced flooding and erosion.
What are a few LID strategies we can use around our homes to curtail our effect on the storm water system? The first thing to do is disconnect the downspout. After the downspout is disconnected, direct the water into a rain barrel, or a rain garden two to three metres on a slope away from your home. How does a disconnected downspout alleviate a strained storm water system? A disconnected downspout reduces the amount of water entering the storm drain system, and it will re-establish the natural water cycle by filtering through to the ground water. The water can be stored in a rain barrel to water the garden for free! A disconnected downspout does need a little maintenance. Occasionally, you need to check the eaves and downspouts for leaves and debris. Don’t forget to to look for pooling water.
A rain barrel is a savvy LID strategy that is eco-friendly and very cheap! Rain barrels and rain chains are functional, stylish, statement pieces to decorate your property instead of a manky downspout. Not only will you save money and a precious resource, your garden will flourish with warm rain water rather than chlorinated tap water. A rain barrel needs a sealed lid to prevent mosquitos from breeding, a spigot, a garden hose, and an overflow pipe. Place your rain barrel next to a garden, patio, or deck; under a garden shed or downspout; and, on a slope away from your house. A rain barrel should not be near a driveway, pathway, front porch, or hard surface; and, it should not be on a slope towards your house.
Lastly, it’s raining; it’s pouring; what to do with the overflow? During a storm event, even our best laid plans are overwhelmed, so point the overflow pipe downhill away from your home, and towards a lawn, naturalized planted area, or a beautiful rain garden.
We hope you’re inspired to undertake rain barrel and rain garden projects around your property. Feel free to browse through our Rain, Rain Go Away! board on Pinterest for unique rain chains, rain barrels to decorate your landscape. Maybe you will find a DIY idea to paint your own rain barrel. Once you have your rain barrels in place, grow a naturalized garden specially optimized to attract birds, bees, and beautiful butterflies!