Vail Landscape Logic column: Keep rain out of the gutter with barrels, gardens
The parched month of March and the relief of thirst-quenching overnight rain reminds us how much we need to safeguard our most precious natural resource. Every time we keep the rainfall Mother Nature provides from rolling down the drain and use it in our yards, we rely less on the sprinklers and reduce stress on the storm-water system.
Two ways to keep water in your own yard are to use rain barrels and create a rain garden. Here are a few important tips about each of these smart ways to keep water from running down the drain.
The 2017 landscape season is the first full growing season rain barrels are legal to use in Colorado. Since May is typically our rainiest month, there’s still time to implement a rain-barrel system.
Barrels may be used to collect water running off the roof that can subsequently be used to water landscaped areas on the property. Rainwater is non-potable and designated exclusively for watering plants on the site where the barrel is located.
Households are limited to two barrels with a total capacity of 110 gallons. The barrel must be equipped with a sealable lid as a safety feature, which will also help prevent breeding of mosquitos that can carry West Nile virus.
Two full barrels provide enough water to irrigate about 180 square feet of vegetable garden or lawn. They can potentially provide half the water required by this space during one growing season.
Before you invest in a rain barrel, consider the ongoing maintenance required. Users need to check each barrel regularly for debris, clean it, replace the screen as needed, and — like any irrigation tool — winterize it.
If rainwater collecting may take more time and effort than you can provide, rain gardens offer a more passive approach. If you are renovating an existing yard or starting from scratch, consider making a rain garden part of your landscape design.
A rain garden has a slight depression to help collect water to slow runoff and allow water to percolate into the soil. It will require plants that can withstand moisture extremes ranging from flooded to dry, but there are hardy plants that fill the bill.
What do they do?
• Rain gardens keep water in your yard longer and provide moisture for your plants. When water gushes off a site, it carries pollutants, road salt and bacteria with it. Slowing water means community storm-water systems have less volume and cleaner water to manage.
• Rain gardens are attractive areas with herbaceous perennials, woody shrubs and trees. They can also be designed to provide habitat for birds and butterflies, making them even more environmentally friendly.
Whether you install rain barrels or create a rain garden, you can be proud that you have taken a sustainable step to slow and reduce water run-off and to help cleanse what water does move off your landscape.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.
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