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Irrigation with Rain Gutter Downspouts

Water Conservation - Rainwater Harvesting Technique for Flower Bed and Garden Irrigation

© 2009 by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission

A garden and flower bed irrigation tube from a rain gutter downspout

Are there rain gutters mounted on your roof’s fascia board? Chances are that there are. The purpose is to stop rain from falling on your head as you rush from the house. That’s why one place you’ll find them located is over the walk up to your front door.

But the problem is that they’re misused quite often, usually as a result of claims from an aggressive rain gutter salesman. In any event, we know that gutters make life more comfortable. This article will consider the benefits of gutter downspouts and how you can use them to irrigate your lawn, flower bed or garden.

This rain water harvesting technique use is becoming more popular as a green use of natural, renewable resources and scores points on the LEED certification.

How the Use of Gutter Downspouts can Protect the Home’s Foundation

The purpose of a rain gutter is to collect rainwater meandering down the roof’s shingles and then guide it to your gutter downspout which funnels the water down to ground level. It’s not necessary to install gutters on all edges of your roof.

Why? Because you want the rainwater to flow from the roof at an even distribution pattern. In this way the ground at all edges of your slab or foundation receive an equal soaking. This minimizes the chance of your slab or foundation straining and cracking from a saturated spot here, and dry, desiccated ground there.

A Roof Gutter and Downspout

Task number one is to choose the areas where a rain gutter would benefit you yet not jeopardizing your slab or foundation. Once you’ve got the rain water accumulated in your gutter downspout, what can do with it? Chances are you have a flower bed or vegetable garden close by; why not send the rain water there?

In many areas, it's a good idea to install gutter guards or screens to exclude debris and minimize the chore of gutter cleaning.

Install your Irrigation System

Your local home improvement store (Home Depot or Lowes) will provide you with flexible plastic drainage tubing. It's specially engineered to slide onto the base portion of the downspout. You can use this tubing to channel rain water away from your home’s perimeter in order to avoid super-saturating any one area in particular.

At the far end of the drainage tubing, fashion a piece of Plexiglas so that it will barely fit snugly into the end of your drainage tube. Next, drill a hole in the Plexiglas the size of a soaker hose and insert it in an inch or so. Seal it in using silicone caulk. Finally, bury your soaker hose in your vegetable garden or flower bed. The rainwater flowing from the roof will now benefit your garden!

Whenever you install any gutter downspout, keep the following guidelines in mind. Secure it to the base portion of your rain gutter using either aluminum pop rivets or hex head self-tapping screws. Attach some kind of a mesh strainer at the opening to keep large objects from clogging it up. Finally, use a high quality silicone caulk to seal all the connections. Check them every time you clean your gutters out

Rather not do the job yourself? Check out Angie’s List - Find thousands of unbiased ratings and reviews on service companies in your area, join Angie’s List today.

The Alternative of Garden Irrigation

You might decide not to take advantage of the flower bed watering configuration described above. If so, you still have a need to divert rainwater from your slab. As mentioned above, excessive water gathering in any single spot is bad news for the slab’s strength and general health.

Home improvement stores sell water diverters manufactured from concrete. You set one on the ground under your downspout and this will channel rainwater away from your home. In some cases, it makes more sense to install a French drain.

As you can see, the lowly gutter downspout is beneficial to the health of the slab or foundation and can also serve as a huge asset in keeping your garden or flower bed properly irrigated.

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