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Old 12-28-2017, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Geauga County, Ohio
1,457 posts, read 1,407,004 times
Reputation: 1368

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I wasn't sure the best place to post this.


Mu husband and I bought a home last year on 14.4 acres. We're remodeling the house itself, but outside we have another project.


We have a large barn that was originally used for horses on the property. Next to the barn is where our vegetable garden and orchard is going to be, its about a 50' X 60' area. The barn is 50' X 50'. We also painted it, cleaned it up, and will be adding a new roof, gutters, downspouts to it.


What we are trying to do is set up a rainwater collection system to water the garden with (with backup from the well, since there is already water run from the house to the barn).


Rather than try to collect rainwater from the house itself, we figured the barn made more sense, being right next to the garden, plus, it's uphill from the house.


Through a family friend, we will be able to get a large tank, 5,000 - 8,000 gallons, that we should be able to fit inside the barn. The idea we have is to route the downspouts through the barn wall, inside the barn, into the tank, and use the tank to store water. Based on our average rainfall in the Cleveland, Ohio area, we should have more than enough rain to fill it, and most years, probably won't even use all the water to water the garden, unless there is a drought. That's the reason we want to have the well as a backup.


So far this sounds feasible, but we are trying to work out the details.


So here are the questions we have.


1. We would prefer to use drip irrigation, but also have a spigot attached to the water tank, so we can use a hose as well to spot-water individual plants. Would we need a pump and/or a pressure tank, same as we do with a well? The barn does sit a bit higher than the garden, but only slightly.

2. Is there a way to automate the system, so if the tank is too empty, the system could seamlessly switch to the well water line? It might not be necessary, since we will most likely control it manually, but it would be a nice feature.
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Old 12-28-2017, 03:44 PM
 
Location: The Driftless Area, WI
1,232 posts, read 482,716 times
Reputation: 2340
One inch of rain falling on your 50x50 barn roof will amount to more than 700 gal of water.

My 325 gal tank is about 4'x4'x3'. A 5000 gal tank must be huge. Why bother putting it in the barn and not next to it?

The tank must be about 15-20 ft above the garden in order to get the same pressure as that in a normal house-- although if you're gunna run the water thru soaker hoses, you don't need nearly that much pressure.

A garden only needs about one inch of rain per week. More might be too much. Don't bother with automatic systems-- just turn it on and off when needed.
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Old 12-28-2017, 04:08 PM
 
Location: Geauga County, Ohio
1,457 posts, read 1,407,004 times
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Because outside is ugly, and would possibly freeze in my climate. The inside of the barn doesn't usually get below the mid 20s, so it probably wouldn't freeze all the way through with that much water in it.
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Old 12-28-2017, 08:45 PM
 
Location: North West Arkansas (zone 6b)
2,333 posts, read 1,551,560 times
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i haven't seen anything available that would automatically switch between 2 sources of water, but a visual check should be good enough to switch from one to the other.

More important would be to find a way of turning off the water after a set period of time. I've left my drip irrigation running all day a few times when I forgot to turn off the water and emptied my rain storage.

Since you want to run irrigation with 0 pressure, be sure to run large diameter tubing (1/2") to all the beds and only use short runs with minimal numbers of drip spots (depends on your system but somewhere between 3-7 ft of 1/4" tubing)

Not sure how feasible it would be to raise your storage tank up off the ground to increase pressure but maybe a tall tank vs a short wide one would work better for water pressure.
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Old 12-29-2017, 07:33 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
27,520 posts, read 48,617,658 times
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You can get better pressure by placing the spigot higher up on the tank, not near the bottom. Your biggest problem will be clogging emitters. You will need a good filter to prevent debris from getting into the tubing, and that will reduce your pressure. Even wells cause issues for drip systems if not filtered, because a tiny bit of sand can clog them, then your plants die. At the very least, use two emitters per plant. Before the first hard freeze in winter, blow out the lines with air so they don't freeze and break the plastic parts. You could consider a pump on a timer to get the pressure you want and water, then you could have the water come from a hose going just a bit through a float in the tank so it doesn't suck up debris from the bottom.
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Old 12-29-2017, 09:43 AM
 
156 posts, read 54,039 times
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In many places the rain water that falls on your roof or property belongs to the CITY. And you can be charged with a crime by attempting to harvest / save it in barrels etc

Yes I am serious.
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:38 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,519 posts, read 49,914,433 times
Reputation: 26595
You are on the right track, however...

1. Get the garden area soil tested. Your state extension service should be able to guide you on that. An area near a barn is not like a spot in the middle of a field. It may have had a pen at one time or another, a tractor may have regularly been parked there and there be hydraulic fluid and oil in the soil, fertilizer or lime may have been loaded into spreaders there and dropped onto the area, old wormer or other medicinals may be in the soil. OTOH, if there was horse manure the soil may be rich, but have some pernicious weeds. You can often get a sense of soil condition by what is growing on it naturally.

2. Your tank should be just about sufficient for that size garden. A late season month of no or little rain will use just about all of it. Even though the tank is inside, paint it with lightproof paint. You will absolutely grow algae otherwise. Flat black or aluminized paint are best.

3. If it is a standard poly tank, they can handle some freezing, but it is best not to test that out. Insulation of loose hay, a lid to prevent evaporation, and a stock tank heater or other source of heat will insure it doesn't freeze. Remember that a barn interior get no boost from sun heat during winter months.

4. A cheap Harbor Freight shallow well pump ($100+-) will bring your pressure up and be cheap to run, staying off most of the time because of the pressure tank attached. It will need to be in an insulated and somewhat heated box. Typically a small light bulb is used, either with a thermostat or without.

5. You will want a whole house filter that goes between tank and pump. A five micron filter will be fine. Put the filter in the pump box. Put a cutoff and hose bibb after the pump but within the thermal envelope of the box. Attach your main hose there.

6. You cannot legally make a direct connection between a municipal and well or rainwater system. The potential for contamination of mains water - no matter how good the system - is too great and laws prevent it. What you can do is have a low water sensor in your tank that will dump mains water in it from a hose with a vacuum breaker.

7. Drip irrigation is prone to clogs, and the hoses have to be routed so you don't whack them with your garden tools or crush them. Also, at the lower pressures of a shallow well pump, emitters at the end of a run may get significantly less water than those closer in. You don't have a strict need to conserve water, and simpler spray irrigation may be a better choice for most of the garden. Besides, plants that have access to a drip emitter may not grow a robust root system that reaches out to search for water. Trees with small root balls fall over in winds or can have other problems.

8. Be aware of where and when shade falls AND reflections of sun from the barn or other surfaces. You can light starve or cook plants if not careful. OTOH, some shade may protect plants and early plantings benefit from reflected light.

most of all, have fun and learn.
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,519 posts, read 49,914,433 times
Reputation: 26595
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLastPatriot View Post
In many places the rain water that falls on your roof or property belongs to the CITY. And you can be charged with a crime by attempting to harvest / save it in barrels etc

Yes I am serious.
Chances of a fifteen acre property being in a city are rare, a barn also implies agricultural use and grandfathering. Most of the water harvesting laws have been rolled back anyway.
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:42 AM
 
Location: S.W. British Columbia
5,451 posts, read 5,438,598 times
Reputation: 9167
If OP's family is in Cleveland Ohio then they're okay to harvest rainwater.


State by state rainwater harvesting regulations: State Rainwater Harvesting Laws and Legislation


.
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:49 PM
 
5,260 posts, read 5,845,942 times
Reputation: 13243
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
You can get better pressure by placing the spigot higher up on the tank, not near the bottom. Your biggest problem will be clogging emitters. You will need a good filter to prevent debris from getting into the tubing, and that will reduce your pressure. Even wells cause issues for drip systems if not filtered, because a tiny bit of sand can clog them, then your plants die. At the very least, use two emitters per plant. Before the first hard freeze in winter, blow out the lines with air so they don't freeze and break the plastic parts. You could consider a pump on a timer to get the pressure you want and water, then you could have the water come from a hose going just a bit through a float in the tank so it doesn't suck up debris from the bottom.
Can you explain the part in red, please?


Yes to the filters.


Get an irrigation specialist in, or at least talk with someone who has done a major rainwater collection system such as you propose. Make sure they have done more than just a simple barrel under the downspout system.


I looked into it a few years back when building a home. My tank would have had to be buried, and a pump system installed to retrieve the collected water. Plus filters and piping and the cost escalated quite quickly. I regret not having done it, but at that time there just wasn't an extra $10 grand in the budget.


Good luck. Everything you suggested can be done with timers, pumps, connections to your municipal or well system (you use a backflow valve to prevent problems others have suggested) and anything else you can imagine. Do it properly and you will enjoy "free" water for years to come.
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