In some parts of the country, hosepipe bans have already been put in place and the threat of droughts increases as we progress into summer.
Here, Angus Crichton, Marketing Manager for ACO Home & Garden is inviting gardeners and landscapers to join the conversation on how rainwater can be managed to help tackle the impact of climate change.
Our homes’ relationship with water has to evolve. The UK has been used to comparatively cheap, on-demand water piped into our homes to drink, water the lawn and clean the car. The assumption many of us have is that, when rainwater runs off rooftops, stormwater drains will provide an adequate exit. The boom-and-bust rainfall patterns along with the sealing over of rain-absorbing ground to accommodate population growth has shredded these long-held beliefs.
The results of this are that our news is often dominated by macro-level concern around water security, as sewage overflows into watercourses. According to the Environment Agency, in 2022, sewage entered our rivers 825 times a day on average. Sir James Bevan, head of the agency, has warned we are staring into “the jaws of death”. Based on current data, the UK will run out of drinking-quality water into our homes by 2050, as demand outstrips supply.
Rethinking our approach
When we think about our own homes, presumptions of readily available water tend to shape our habits and behaviours. Meanwhile, solutions, knowledge and objectives around rainwater runoff are fragmented across professions, trades and the homeowner’s wish list. Garden water features are designed with little connection to rainwater runoff, and guttering and soakaway capacity is usually specified with the only goal being that rainwater is removed quickly.
Rainwater management will likely not be taken into account by most homeowners creating their ideal outdoor space. Drainage to handle patio runoff for example can be an unwelcome expense and even an eyesore in some scenarios. Avid gardeners who like to focus on planting often opt for looks, as opposed to the plants’ potential to cool an area or help with runoff diffusion.
Rethinking our resources
With an eye to combatting these issues, ACO has partnered with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the UK’s largest garden charity, for the creation of The RHS Resilient Garden at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Festival (4th-9th July). The garden’s designer is Tom Massey and its builder is Landscape Associates. The garden – accompanied by a book published by Dorling Kindersley – shows the potential to transform an unimaginative domestic garden into one that is aesthetically pleasing while being a haven for biodiversity and resilient to climate change. Because of this, an integrated approach to domestic rainwater management is key to The RHS Resilient Garden and the adjoining ACO stand.
At the stand, gardeners will be taken on a journey from when rainwater lands on a property to its eventual dispersal. The relationship between homes and rainwater is reimagined; no longer a problem for swift disposal but a resource to channel, store and disperse, using the combined power of plants and products.
This rethinking would see impermeable roofs, patios and driveways as catchment areas that can be used to channel rainwater towards storage for later use. Channel drains feed rainwater gardens that overflow into soakaways, demonstrating how drainage combines functionality, aesthetics and sustainability. In cases where the site is compact, has heavy soil or a high water table, rainwater may be better slowed by green roofs and rainwater planters prior to its release. Paths and drives can be made permeable by using gravel or grass embedded in a ground stabilisation product, which also delivers a hardwearing surface accessible to all, from prams to SUVs.
The quality and quantity of water are increasingly important issues for the landscaping and the water sectors. By talking together, we can develop innovative solutions and manufacture products to deliver them in an ongoing effort to rethink rainwater. Join the conversation at the ACO Stand at RHS Hampton Court Festival or contact me at email@example.com.
Angus Crichton is Marketing Manager for ACO Home and Garden. Having designed and installed a rainwater harvesting and infiltration system in his own property, he is convinced we need to rethink rainwater use in domestic properties in the face of climate change.
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