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RainScapes are the ultimate in water efficient landscaping. In a RainScape,
all outdoor plant water needs are met by harvesting
rainwater (and gray water if possible)
while preserving tap water for indoor and drinking water needs.
RainScapes follow the 7 principles of Xeriscaping
for a water efficient landscape, but add an 8th principle, “Balancing
the Budget”, to ensure all the water needs for the landscape are
met by the rain that falls on the property.
RainScapes balance the landscape water budget by using a combination
of different kinds and amounts of plants, and rain catchment options
including storage tanks (“active systems”) and contouring
the land (“passive systems”) to beneficially direct rainwater.
How much water you need each month for irrigation depends on the number
and type of plants in the landscape. The more water thrifty the plants,
the less water needs to be captured -- or you can add more plants to
take advantage of the abundance of rain on your property.
Think there isn’t enough rain? With an annual rainfall of 15”,
a ¼ acre lot receives over 100,000
gallons of rainwater per year. What falls on the ground can be directed
to plants-- contouring the soil can help direct and detain the water
long enough to help give the plants a good drink.
Want to collect it for use during dry months? Six hundred gallons of
water can be collected for every 1” of rainfall that lands on
a 1,000 square foot roof. Just like a checking account where you make
deposits and withdrawals throughout the year, a storage tank works much
the same way. Therefore, although you may get 9,000 gallons of rain
from your 1,000 square foot roof in a year, it is not necessary to store
a years’ worth of water.
If rainwater is actively stored for later use, a “balanced water
budget” will assure that plants needing extra water during the
drier months will have the water they need to thrive. If no storage
tanks are used, select plants that can survive on rainfall with passive
Water Wise has various tools available to help “Balance the Budget”:
- Plant lists are available to help you select low water use
- Watering Guidelines help with
watering frequencies of
low and high water use plants
- Water Budget worksheets help estimate storage tank size
based on amounts and kinds of landscape plants. The worksheets also
help to plan a RainScape by estimating plant water needs. Contact
Water Wise for more information on these worksheets.
RainScapes help reduce dependence on declining water supplies while
giving you a beautiful landscape supplied by Mother Nature’s bounty.
Because water use in landscaping accounts for up to 50% of a typical
water bill, this is a great way to help your community -- and your wallet!