January 2012: HOGs in Winter

Is it snowing where you are? It is in Arlington, MA. We checked in with Frank Koll of GreenScapes Lawn and Garden Services, an irrigation contractor and  Rainwater HOG distributor. New England-based (and snow-tested) Frank gave us the lowdown on preparing water catchment systems for winter, East Coast style.

Essential for making your HOGs–and all water capture containers–winter-ready is to drain them of water before it freezes. Frozen water can make HOG tanks bulge, although unlike other rainwater tanks they won’t crack or splinter.

Frank offers his clients an annual maintenance program. This season he winterized 16 HOGs. Who knew HOGs could hibernate?

Frank Koll of GreenScapes stores his demonstration HOG tanks outside, a testament to  their weather-proof durability. Look closely to find them camouflaged in snow above. The downspout has been diverted to lead the gutter run-off at least 10 feet from the house foundation. Come summer, Frank will attach the tanks to the downspout and water his backyard edible garden with rainwater.

“Rainwater HOG tanks are a great solution for urban clients who have small spaces for water capture,” says Frank, identifying the small footprint and modular design of the tanks as additional draws for his East Coast clients.

New England weather is infamously fickle – variations can be extreme even within one season. At GreenScapes, the philosophy is to keep water cycling systematically through the landscape. Clients receive a seasonal audit to check in with the health of their lawns, gardens and irrigation systems. Irrigation and rainwater storage equipment that maximize the use of harvested rainwater for each site are implemented and maintained, along with overflow management and winter preparedness strategies.

“Winterization is a component of issues faced in the Northeast, Northwest, the Midwest, and Canada,” says Frank. Many of his clients have HOG tanks on balconies to water gardens. He prepared these HOG systems for winter simply by draining them using gravitational force. For underground HOG installations, he used an air compressor with 30 to 40 psi to remove remaining water. He uses this same forced air method (at a higher psi) for traditional in-ground systems.

Other rain barrels or units required different approaches. Wooden rain barrels, including whiskey barrels, must be relocated indoors for winter storage.  Not the HOGs, which were left outside with the diverters or downspouts redirected.

Early in the establishment of GreenScapes Lawn and Garden Services, Frank recognized that water management would be a cornerstone of his organic lawn approach. “Irrigation methods need to be dynamically managed so that plants stay healthy and water usage is optimized,” he explains.

Further questions about winterizing your HOG tanks? E-mail us at info@rainwaterhog.com.