Brick Patio - collects rainwater

copyright 2009
See this brick patio? It has some interesting features. It cost around $300 to build. Also, it contains 200 gallons of rainwater collection underneath! Read on, to see how I made this patio:

I'll explain the rain collection system that is built into this patio as I explain it's construction. Ready? Ok, here we go.


First, I had to build steps to reach the patio:

I wanted the patio furniture to be below the windows so the furniture would not block the view from the windows. So, I had to build steps to get down to the patio. I dug a hole 1 foot wide and 1 to 2 feet down into native soil for the bottom step's outer perimeter. In this hole I added lots of rebar and lots of concrete. I used wood forms above the ground to get to the level of the bottom step. I constructed the tread (horizontal part) of the steps later to make sure that the steps were all within 1/8" height of each other:

Everything below the wood forms will be covered by the final patio (including some of the limestone shown below):


Topping off the treads with brick really covered all the rubble and bare concrete that I used to fill in the steps:


Next, I dug a trench around the perimeter of the patio and filled it with lots of rebar and concrete. On this footing of concrete, I built a wall of limestone 3 feet high. In this wall I put some limestone fossils which I found around our property. All of the limestone was free for the asking from the garbage piles leftover from houses being build! I also got permission to get scrap rock that I used to fill-in the patio. In addition to the scrap rock, I plumbed up four 55 gallon barrels to gather rain water from the patio. You can see them buried here. I put layers of decking material over the barrels to make sure that any weight would be distributed over the barrels.

Each barrel has 1) an inlet for water, 2) an up-riser pipe to let out air, and 3) an outlet pipe that siphons water from the bottom of the barrel.


The water inlets to each of the four barrels is connected to a 5 gallon bucket that distributes water to these inlet pipes. I cut a 4" pipe length-wise along the drip line of the house to divert water into this bucket:

Next, I added smaller gravel to make a smoother surface:
Also, I cut some 4" pipe length-wise to act as a gutter to funnel water into the bucket.


I also added 12 layers of foundation tarp to funnel water from the drip line of the roof into this 4" pipe. I used 12 layers to reduce any tears that could develop (overkill).

On top of the 4" pipe, I put some man-made decking lumber so that the bricks would not sink into the 4" pipe (later gravel goes on top of all this).

I cut some holes in the lumber so water can flow into the gutter:

More gravel to cover the tarp and lumber:


Add more gravel and some bricks along the edge:

Take a break and push kiddo on swing. :-)

She's so cute isn't she? :-)

8 - Water exits here.

At the bottom right, you can see the spigots that allow the water to come out. Surprisingly, when the barrels fill up, they develop enough air pressure in the pipe so water flows without having to prime the siphon!


Add lots more bricks. I used an angle grinder with a masonry cutoff blade to cut bricks on the edges. You can buy an expensive one at Lowes or Home Depot or a simple one at Harbor Freight (I used Harbor Freight's).


I added more bricks and later a railing.

These iron railings are available at Lowes / Home Depot, but I bought them locally from an iron railing fabricator. They are "hot-dipped" galvanized to prevent rust. I used my angle grinder with a metal cut-off wheel to cut the metal railings to fit between the posts. To attach the railings into the posts, you insert an L-bracket into the railing then screw the L-bracket into the post.How did all this cost $300? The bricks were saved from the piles of construction debris and free for the asking. Here is another one of my rain-harvesting projects: