Our Gravity Flow Water System – Part 1

Now that we had an orchard we had to figure out a way to water the trees.  Since we are striving to be as sustainable as possible, we decided to collect rainwater during the fall and winter and store it in large water storage tanks for spring and summer irrigation.  The metal roof of the tool shed was an ideal rainwater collector, all we needed to install were the rain gutters and a large storage tank.  The gutters were the easy part.  We bought everything at our local box store and installed them, including the leaf guards, in one weekend.

This is the tool shed before we set it up to collect rainwater.

This is the tool shed before we set it up to collect rainwater.

The hard part was constructing a pad for the water storage tank.  We knew we wanted to put it behind the tool shed, which meant digging a level area large enough and deep enough for the tank to sit below the level of the gutters.  This was necessary to ensure gravity flow of the rainwater from the metal roof top, into the gutters, then the down-spouts and into the top of the water storage tank.Once we had the area dug to our satisfaction (and to the specifications of width and height listed for the tank we wanted to buy), we framed up an area large enough to hold the tank, along with three sides to hold the dirt away from the tank, and poured concrete in three separate pours.  After the concrete was poured Ray installed landscaping timbers as retaining walls on the two sides exactly the same way he did when we built the spot for the trailer (see here).  We used concrete blocks for the back wall simply because this was the wall that would have to hold back most of the dirt.

This was the tool shed after the gutters were installed.  We also installed leafguards on the gutter to filter out the leaves and pine needles.

This was the tool shed after the gutters were installed. We also installed leafguards on the gutter to filter out the leaves and pine needles.

Once the pad was completed we bought an 1,100 gallon water storage tank at an irrigation supply store.  Thank goodness this tank size fit exactly into the back of our F-150 pick-up truck, so we were able to haul it up to the property without much trouble and without having to pay a delivery fee.  We had tied the whole thing down pretty securely in the back of the truck and while we were driving down the highway those ropes and tie-downs were singing to us in the wind!  It was a happy song as they resonated, thrunged and whistled all the way up to our future homestead, and Ray and I laughed almost the whole way.

  • Pouring a Concrete Pad Pouring a Concrete Pad After we dug away what seemed like a mountainside (just kidding) we framed out an area just a little larger than the tank (we checked the specs first!) and began to pour a concrete pad upon which the tank would sit.
  • Retaining Wall Retaining Wall We had to start building the retaining wall on this side ASAP because a rainstorm made the hillside a bit unstable and we were getting a lot of mud on the concrete. Ray built this retaining wall the same way he build the retaining wall for the trailer site.
  • Concrete Blocks Concrete Blocks We decided to place concrete blocks along the back side of the wall because this wall would have to bear the weight of snow and mud, keeping it away from the tank area. We placed rebar in the concrete pad which extended up both courses of concrete blocks, just to ensure those blocks don't break free or slide. Once the blocks were set we filled them with concrete.
  • The Second Retaining Wall The Second Retaining Wall Getting ready to install the second retaining wall.
  • Done Done All done and ready for the water storage tank!
  • Bringing in the Tank Bringing in the Tank Luckily, this 1,100 gallon water storage tank fit almost exactly into the back of our F150 pick-up! With numerous tie-downs, lots of rope and some come-alongs, we were able to haul it up ourselves and avoided the delivery fee.
  • Ready for Rain Ready for Rain The tank fit perfectly! Now all we needed was some rain!

Once the tank was placed in it’s new home and everything was set up, it only took a few rainstorms to fill up the entire tank!  In fact, after a month we had to remove the down-spouts and put the lid on the tank as it was completely full and gushing over!  It was very obvious that after this tank was full, we needed another tank!

Here is our system all ready to go.  The rain slides down the metal roof, into the gutters, down the down-spouts and into the water storage tank!  It only took a few rainstorms to fill up this 1,100 gallon tank!

Here is our system all ready to go. The rain slides down the metal roof, into the gutters, down the down-spouts and into the water storage tank! It only took a few rainstorms to fill up this 1,100 gallon tank!

But Wait, There’s More! So stay tuned but sit tight!  That story is coming up in my next post!


UPDATE:   For Gravity Flow Water System Part 2, Click HERE






Shared at these fun parties: Freedom FridaysFriendship FridayFrom The Farm Blog HopPinworthy Projects PartyFarmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog PartyWeekend re-Treat; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday; Fridays Unfolded; Anything Goes LinkyShow Off FridayCraft Frenzy FridayWeekends Are FunFront Porch FridayCity of Links; Project Pin-it



Gravity Flow Irrigation

This is a bigger picture of the “workings” of our water collection system.





Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

16 thoughts on “Our Gravity Flow Water System – Part 1

  1. Love this! It’s amazing how much rainwater can be captured with even a small rainfall. Plus it stabilizes some of the ebbs & flows of runoff water and also allows you to use this precious resource when it’s most needed. What a win/win!
    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

    • Yes, before we got the whole system together, the rainwater dripping off the roof was actually causing an erosion problem. This is truly a win/win, as you say! Thanks for your comment!

  2. Pingback: Spreading the Liebster Award Lovin’ | The Local Kitchener

  3. Such a cool idea…I love the idea of your blog. Every little bit is a step in the right direction. I can’t wait to try out some of your ideas after we move.

    I saw your a link to your blog on Friendship Friday and the link went to an error screen on your site, though your blog is easy enough to navigate to find it. Might want to fix that.

    • Thanks, Catherine. You are so right that every little bit helps. And thanks for telling me about the error screen – I will try to fix that!

  4. When we renovated our home and lot, my husband built a walled bulkhead around my whole back yard/future garden area. This wall also included inserted PVC pipe so I could easily install deer fencing post. We connected all the house downspouts and installed a rain water drain field in the garden. We have also installed our first rain barrel to one of the downspouts for hand watering. The rain barrel has a open/shut overflow valve at the top so excess water feeds back to the downspout and out to the garden drain field. This over flow can also be shut to install and fill future rain barrels. The garden and orchard embraces permaculture practices with growing mounds and heavy mulching. I only water when I’ve planted garden seeds. Once the roots are established they are pulling water from below. I hope your doing well this year. My family is in the Sierra foothills (Tuolumne County) and are really suffering from water issues.

    • Good morning, Sheri. Thank you for visiting my blog! Yes, the drought is really going to kick us in the butt this year. Hopefully our well won’t run dry, but the guy that lives in the lot below us decided to grow a crop that takes a lot of water and he is drawing out of his well, which is below ours, to water his crop. 🙁 But, with three 1,100 gallon storage containers full of water, we hope we will have enough to keep our trees alive for the summer.
      Your set-up sounds great! In our part of the Sierra we don’t get much rain (if any) during the summer, so it is a necessity to water our vegetables and trees, which is why we plan to store so much water. One of my sons lives in your neighborhood – near Sonora and Twain Harte – which is a beautiful area. Good luck this year. I know we are all praying for summer rains with NO lightening!

      • Small world! My Dad is in Twain Harte and Ma-in-law is in Tuolumne City, she sat on her deck watching the Rim fire last year. I’m not there any more except for visits. I got tired of the water/fire problems years ago and moved to Washington State. I was down last Christmas and saw the lakes, Lake Shasta was so low. I’m a bit surprised you have a neighbor that is pulling so much water off his well in a serious drought. Is he protected and have certain “water rights” or did he tap into an artesian spring? I warned some family/riends in Tuolumne County to keep the wood chips down very thick. At least 8 inches thick. They hold water, keep root systems cooler, keeps weeds from stealing vital water & nutrients and insulate the upper layers from solar evaporation. Cover everything, even your walking paths. I was very shocked driving through the farming lands down there that I didn’t see this happening. Bare soil dries out faster and if you do get hit by a fire the moisture hydrated chips will insulate the soil. I watched a film called “Back to Eden”. It is a documentary about permacultrure gardening. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend that you spend an hour and half to watch it. I’ve been gardening this way. The film centers around Paul Gautschi and his garden in Sequim Washington. Sequim is in the rain shadow of the Olympic Peninsula.It is one of the driest areas of the state (Weird because it is west of the Cascades). Paul has an awesome garden and has learned how to grow in this dry environment by mimicking nature. (Nature doesn’t Till the land, use pesticides or chemical fertilizers).

        • Thank you for so much information, Sheri! Wow – I think YOU should have a blog. As far as the wood chips; that is something we are working on. We have a chipper and lately have been putting the chips on part of the driveway. It not only keeps the weeds at bay, but stops a lot of the dust also. When our raised beds are finished, I will use the wood chips for mulch. I haven’t had a chance to watch the film, but I certainly will. Thanks again, Sheri. I would love to hear from you again!

          • I am so blessed with an Uncle who got his Ph.D. majoring in Forestry (Berkley) in the early 1970’s. He’s a “Boots on the Ground” Doctor with world plant & tree issues. He and my grandpa starting back in the 1960’s, did a ranch project out on the Mojave desert growing shade and orchard trees. Water is so important because moisture in soil supports “Beneficial Nematodes”. In areas of drought infistations of bad insects usually follow. We know who the Pine Bark Beetle is. Right now in the area of the Rim Fire they are cutting and moving out approx. 135 truck loads per day of dead trees. The mills have 2 years before the bugs get so bad that the timber will be unusable. It’s all part of the cycle of life. If you experience fire, know that this cycle is normal and sometimes “necessary” to sustain life. Without forest burn-offs, soils would become too acidic.
            Burning of organic matter creates charcoal (Char), which releases natural lime and other vital minerals to make soil “alkaline”. Over time the conifers; Cedar, Redwood & Juniper (Evergreens) would only be able to live in the soil. Walnuts & Oaks are “Allopathic” and the leaf they drop are toxic and pushes out food producing plants for ground grazing wildlife. Yellowstone was a beautiful example of grazing revival. If you get the time here’s another great video: Permaculture Greening the Desert

          • Thank you, Sheri! Like I said, you have so much knowledge about permaculture and stuff, you should have your own blog! I will certainly watch the video – thank you!

  5. Thank you for sharing this post at City of Creative Dream’s City of Links on Friday! I appreciate you taking the time to party with me. Hope to see you again this week 🙂

  6. Pingback: Simply Natural Saturdays - 6/7/2014 - Crunchy Livin Mama Style