Sunday October 22, 2006
Store rainwater for summer now to help the environment and save money into the bargain.At the height of summer, it pays to be wise with water. Planting drought-tolerant species and mulching garden beds will cut down on outdoor water usage but you can further reduce town-water consumption - and household bills - by installing a purpose-built tank to collect and store rainwater. * Before buying a water-storage container, check if your local council has any location, colour or noise-control requirements for tanks. Also contact the water supplier in your state as you may be eligible for a government rebate on part of the buying and installation costs.* Water storage tanks come in many designs, sizes and materials. The three I recommend are: above-ground moulded polythene or steel, underground concrete and flexible plastic bladders.1. Slimline polythene or steel tanks are cost-effective and simple to install. They rest on a firm base, such as concrete, with downpipes to catch the rainwater run-off from the roof. Poly tanks (left) come in a wide range of colours to complement your exterior house or garden scheme. Steel tanks look great alongside weatherboard cottages or in rural settings. Poly and steel tanks can be installed from $1000 for a 1000-litre tank.2. Underground concrete tanks come prefabricated and are simply dropped into position or they can be custom-built. They are ideal if you're planning to build a new home or extend as they can be easily situated beneath the garden, driveway, garage or as extension to the stormwater retention tanks required by councils. Depending on the size and the scope of the work, a 10,000-litre tank will set you back about $6500.3. If you have an elevated house or veranda area, bladders are a great space-saver as they only need a height area of 500 millimetres (including the stand). They're not as durable as other options but they are compact and can be hidden from view. A 3900-litre bladder will cost about $3000 to supply and install.* When installing a rainwater tank, an automatic switching device is worth considering. This will switch the irrigation system in the garden to operate from town water if the tank runs dry.* Pumps are usually required to carry the stored water to the garden. Seek professional advice about the best pump for your situation.* For more information, visit www.sydneywater.com.au or www.melbournewater.com.au. For specialist advice on water storage solutions, contact Watermatic Irrigation on (02) 9477 5540 in Sydney and Water Pros in Melbourne (1300 606 111).Planter's boxBotanical name: Plectranthus saccatusAlthough this soft-stemmed shrub from South Africa is under-utilised in gardens, it is useful for planting in difficult spots; for example, in shaded areas beneath big trees or in soils that are dense with tree roots. The stems of this semi-succulent - which grows to 1200 millimetres - are tinged purple with superb pale-blue flowers and spikes. Position it in full sun or full shade. You can put this versatile plant just about anywhere - even in hanging baskets - making it perfect for the patio.
© 2006 Sun Herald