Summer is the perfect time to maintain and enjoy your garden. Our resident gardening guru, Charlie Albone, shares his top tips for holding water in your garden for irrigation.
We have been having some very strange weather of recent, unseasonably scorching hot temperatures followed by days of pouring rain leaving me wondering what will happen over summer?
Will it be a wet one or a dry one? One thing that’s for sure it’s that the weather is highly unpredictable and I don’t trust the weatherman!
The possibility of a ‘dry one’ is ever present all over Australia so I think its important to save as much rain water as possible to be used for irrigation when needed and there are lots of ways of collecting the precious ‘wet stuff’
Water butts are used all over Europe (and I’ve only ever seen them in English peoples houses in Australia) and are really simple to install. They are basically an oversized bucket, or small water tank, placed at the bottom of your down pipes to collect water off the roof. You can get small open top ones (glorified buckets) or closed in units (like a mini water tank), the benefits being they are cheap to buy and easy to install however they only hold a relatively small amount of water. Really you can only use these off of small roofs as larger roofs are plumbed into the storm water and it can seem like a large expense for a small amount of water if you get a plumber in to fit it (which you will need to do).
What is worth a visit from a plumber is a rainwater tank. These can be small, large, slim-line, squat, tall, flexible …. The list goes on and really there is a water tank for any size garden. Flexible bladders are also great water tanks that can easily be situated under your house or deck to save space. Water tanks collect the water from your roof, filter out any large particles such as leaves and store the water for use in the garden. As well as buying the tank and having a plumber install it you will need a pump to push the water out and round the garden and I recommend buying the best quality pump you can afford as trusting a cheap pump to look after your gardens water needs whilst you go away on a holiday can lead to a rather disappointing end to the vacation when you arrive home!
Tanks are a great way to save a lot of water but the bigger you go the bigger the expense so try and work out how much water you use / need and only get the tank you will make the most of. Your local tank supplier will be able to help with a bit of local knowledge on the climate so take some pictures of the garden when you go tank shopping to make sure they can offer the most well informed advice.
Ponds and water features are also another, often overlooked, way of storing water on your property to be used for irrigating the garden. Firstly plan your pond in the lowest part of the garden so the maximum rainwater can be collected from the site (water likes to travel down hill to the lowest point). Then when constructing your pond have a large marginal zone, this areas water level will fluctuate the most as rainwater enters and get pumped out for irrigation. You can plant this area up with marginal reeds and rushes that will help to clean the water. Finally make sure you have a suitable place as an overflow as there is always a possibility of torrential rain that will flood the pond and your neighbours may not like it if it all flows into their garden.
Ponds and water features look great in a garden and if planted up nicely can be an amazing feature but you do need a bit of space to do anything that really catches the eye. Like all of the above a pond of decent water holding capacity will need a specialist to ensure it’s working to its optimum and is safe and legal for all the users of the garden.
If you think that all of the above just seems like too much effort for something that comes out of the tap anyway consider the cost of the water…. If that still doesn’t get you thinking, consider the plants. I know that you can keep a garden alive by watering from the tap but a garden will flourish with rainwater. I’m not sure why this is, my guess is the lack of chlorine in the rainwater but it is a tried and tested noticeable difference.