In our first home we took advantage of the Toronto’s downspout disconnection program and added a rainbarrel to our house. It captured all the rainwater from our roof and we used it regularly to water our plants. It filled quickly and we never ran out of water (mind you it was only for the plants, we didn’t use it for the lawn). The one drawback of the rainbarrel system I found was that it collected a lot of goop — brown sludgy stuff that was probably old leaves and other rotting vegetation. I suppose if I’d been a better gardiner and we’d stayed at that house, I would have had to figure out a way to clean out the rain barrel every few years.
A new-to-Canada underground rainwater collection system is the Aquascape RainXchange. Rainwater from your roof top, or even through permeable patio stones, is filtered and collected underground. A pump works to circulate the water and put it through a water feature above ground. Because the size of the cistern, it can be used for watering garden beds, and lawns if necessary. Seperate pumps are used to deliver water to the yard and hoses can be hooked up as you would to your municipal outdoor tap.
Some of the advantages of using rainwater versus municipal water:
- Rainwater isn’t treated and therefore better for your lawn, meaning less fertilizer is needed.
- Using rainwater means you aren’t limited to municipal watering restrictions in times of drought
- Water from downspouts (those detached from the city’s sewer system), doesn’t pool in one place
- Less municipal water use (decreases your water bill)
- Eases stress on city sewer system
Connie Cadotte of Garden Retreats has just finished installing one under her backyard. Placement of the system is determined by the location of your downspout. There are several sets of filters, an overflow tank in case there’s been a lot of rain, hose outlets and a water feature — in her case a bird bath that helps circulate the water.
Below are some pictures taken during and after the RainXchange in Connie’s backyard:
For more information on the RainXchange, see their website.