February 2, 2007
Years ago, my house in Arlington, MA, had the nasty habit of leaking profusely when the ground froze and the rain then fell. Many nights in the basement with a wet vac, pumps and Wellies, and oh-so-much stress. To say that "a river ran through it" was an understatement. Moving to Austin, I bought a house on top of a plateau, with the most level lot around, and with a cement slab foundation. Dry as the sand dunes in July. Ahh.
Well, now we move to Hyde Park. It's a fairly level lot, but here that's not necessarily a good thing. The soil is gumbo, and the water MUST move away. You get the picture of what happens if it doesn't in one of Michele's earlier blog posts. With the recent extremely wet (and, coincidently, icy) weather, we got to see what was needed in terms of landscaping to make sure the water moves away. And I got to dig out the Wellies again, and do some shovelling in the rain.
I don't know what makes landscapers think that inpermeable walls are a good thing, but we had some in the back, and they conspired to create "Lake ThisOldHouse" during the big rains. We will have to make sure that water is carried away from the house with the landscaping. The plastic skirt that Bill has installed will help with that, and we should get some BIG help with the rainwater collection system—a 1500 gallon cistern that collects the water from our roof (through the eavestroughs and plumbing) and stores it to be distributed by the drip irrigation system. This is a must for a climate where most all of the precipitation occurs in short, heavy bursts, followed by days of 100+ weather.
In this case, the cistern water will be distributed over time to the plants in the landscape. Couple that practice with plants that do not require a lot of water in the first place—natives and "adapted" plants (those that have been adapted to the climate here, but weren't here originally) and my hope is that the majority of our yard irrigation will be provided by mother nature's contribution to our lot, rather than the city's piping through the street, from the reservoir. This should reduce our water bill as well, of course.
And the river will run through it (the yard, that is), but SLOWLY, via a drip system that reduces evaporation and provides small, constant moisture to the plants. They like that. We will even run the drip system up to the deck coming off of the master bedroom, and capture any runoff from the planters there as well, closing the water-recycling loop. The rainwater/drip system acts like a capacitor in the system, storing and then slowly releasing the precious water, distributing the release over time when mother nature doesn't. Coupled with a clever and careful landscape design, hopefully the river will contribute to the lushness and greenery of the garden, and not to the buoyancy of the house!
(5) CommentsComment on this Blog
Where can I find more info about the 1500 gallon cistern you installed?
I am interested in the product, but do not see any web sites about it. Specifically the 80 gallons that clears the trash in the lines.
I'm interested in that 1,500 gallon cistern, too. Can't find out where it was manufactured or anything for that matter. Was a pump used to get the rain water into the cistern? Please respond.
Well, right after I made the above post, I found the site for the cistern used on the Austin home.
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