Plants don’t need drinking-quality water, so make the most of what’s available naturally. While it may not be possible to become completely self-sufficient, you can reduce your water consumption as well as the costs to you and the environment using these tips.

Install a rainwater tank to collect water for the garden

Consider what type will best suit your needs. Correctly siting your tank is also important for maximising efficiency.

  • Never install a rainwater tank without first checking the local council regulations, including details on required distances from boundaries and drains.
  • Look at where your downpipes are and consider siting your tank close by. It will save on extra pipes and you can easily redirect any overflow into the stormwater.
  • Choose to site your tank in a naturally cool spot—on the south or east side of the house is ideal. Unwanted algae is likely to multiply in tanks  where the water is warm.
  • If you can, try to site your tank at a high point in the garden. This way you can use gravity, rather than a pump, to move the water around.
  • If you do need a pump—to increase pressure for sprayers or to push water uphill – make sure you have a weatherproof power outlet nearby.Your external electricity box can be useful for this.
  • For units and small houses where space is limited, consider a water wall, a vertical storage system available from hardware stores, which can double as a fence.
  • Use some form of meshing, such as shadecloth, to prevent your tank becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Read more: Fixing a gutter system to the home

 

Screens for tanks

Although water tanks provide environmental and economic benefits, they are not particularly attractive and can be an eyesore in a small area. Here are some ideas for concealing a tank. You may be able to install a tank underground. It will depend on the type of soil or rock in your garden, whether there’s enough access for excavation equipment and the amount of money you want to spend.

  • Paint the tank the same colour as the wall so it will blend in better with its surroundings.
  • Put tubs of bamboo in front of the tank for an instant screen.
  • Another idea for a ready-made screen is to erect panels of reed, bamboo or tea-tree (from hardware stores and landscape suppliers).

 

Water for the garden

In many areas water is a limited resource. Plants don’t need drinking-quality water, so make the most of what’s available naturally by collecting rain and diverting run-off, or by recycling household waste water. While it may not be possible to become completely self-sufficient, you can reduce your water consumption as well as the costs to you and the environment.

  • For a fast, seasonal cover, grow tall annuals, such as sunflowers and sweet peas.
  • Place a trellis around the tank and cover it with a fast-growing evergreen climbing plant, such as orange trumpet creeper (Pyrostegia venusta).
  • Plant a row of evergreen shrubs in front of the tank and train them as a narrow living screen.
  • Stretch wires between two posts in front of the tank and train a plant, such as a citrus, as an espalier.Tie the branches to the wires and prune them in order to achieve a horizontal effect.

Read more: How to get your garden watered the right way

 

Why use rainwater?

Installing a rainwater tank will save you money on water bills and provide a backup supply during droughts and periods of restrictions.You’ll also be doing your bit to help the environment by:

✔ Reducing pressure on water supplies

✔ Conserving valuable drinking water

✔ Protecting river catchments

✔ Limiting stormwater run-off

✔ Creating a ready resource for firefighting

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