Installing a rainwater tank: A step-by-step DIY adventure


Nestled in the heart of a semi-arid region, our homestead stands as a testament to resilience and sustainable living. Here, every drop of water is precious, a vital resource that sustains not just our family but the surrounding ecosystem as well. Recognizing the critical importance of water conservation, we embarked on a finding a sustainable solution to our water problem. We had the space and water catchment are but no place to capture the limited amount of water we got each year. We needed a rainwater tank and based on our future water needs a really big one.

Water is not light and the investment in storage can be expensive. we decided on buying a rainwater tank but that is just the a small part of the process and there are many things to consider when installing a tank. He are some common question you might want to consider:

Location: is it going to close to usage or water catchment? Is there anything that could containment the water like and overhead tree branch
Elevation: should the tank be at on my land; can I use a higher elevation to feed water to a lower elevation for free
Ground: Is the ground sturdy enough or flat enough to support tons of water when the tank is full; is the ground likely to move over time
Wildlife: Do I need to consider insects such as mosquitoes or wild animal that can damage the tank?

Finding the Perfect Rainwater Tank Supplier

The project kicked off with the crucial task of finding a reliable supplier for the rainwater tank. This process was more intricate than anticipated. It involved deep research, comparing different suppliers not only based on their prices but also their reputation, quality of tanks, and after-sale services. I delved into customer reviews, checked their product range, and assessed their environmental practices. The choice was finally made based on a balance of cost, quality, and the supplier’s commitment to sustainable practices.

Laying a Solid Foundation: The Tank Base

After selecting the supplier, the next significant step was constructing the base for the rainwater tank. According to the supplier’s specifications, a solid base made from crusher dust was necessary. Crusher dust, being a finely crushed rock powder, creates a firm and stable base, crucial for supporting the weight of the tank, especially when filled with water. This phase highlighted the importance of a solid foundation in ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of the rainwater harvesting system. Precise measurements and careful leveling were essential in this step, ensuring that the base was perfectly horizontal and stable.

Erecting a Sturdy Retaining Wall

The plan also included building a 500mm high retaining wall, encompassing a 12m x 12m area around the tank base. This retaining wall was not just a structural necessity but also added an aesthetic dimension to the entire setup. The construction of the retaining wall involved choosing the right materials, ensuring it was strong enough to withstand the soil pressure, and meticulously laying each brick or stone. This phase demanded a blend of engineering precision and a touch of landscaping artistry.

Conquering Geological Challenges

A significant challenge encountered was dealing with a caliche layer beneath the construction site. This hardened layer of soil, rich in calcium carbonate, posed a major obstacle. Drilling through this layer to insert reinforcement steel bars was a test of patience and strength. This step was crucial for the structural integrity of the base, ensuring it could withstand the weight and environmental factors over time.

The Labor of Love: Hand Mixing Cement

One of the most labor-intensive parts of the project was mixing cement by hand. This process, though time-consuming and physically demanding, was critical for creating a strong, durable base. The task required a consistent mix, the right proportion of materials, and a lot of manual labor, but it was a satisfying process seeing the base take shape with each mix.

An Unexpected Visitor: The Baby Brown Snake

A unique aspect of this project was an encounter with a baby brown snake. This encounter was a stark reminder that while we embark on such projects, we are intruding into the natural habitat of local wildlife. The decision to leave the snake undisturbed was a small gesture of respecting and coexisting with the ecosystem around us.

The Joy of Machinery: Skids and Compactors

Despite the challenges, the project had its moments of fun and learning. Using a skid to move and compact bases introduced an element of excitement. Learning to operate a compactor, though initially dizzying due to the vibrations, was an enjoyable and informative experience. These machines significantly eased the process of laying and compacting the base.

Project Completion: A Testament to Hard Work

After just over a week, the base was ready, marking the completion of the most challenging part of the project. The satisfaction derived from completing this phase was immense. It was a testament to hard work, perseverance, and a commitment to sustainable living.


The journey of building a rainwater tank base was more than just a DIY project; it was a learning experience in sustainability, patience, and hard work. Each step, from choosing the right supplier to mixing cement and encountering local wildlife, added layers to this adventure. This project serves as a blueprint for anyone looking to embark on a similar sustainable endeavor, proving that with determination and respect for nature, such challenges can be transformed into rewarding achievements.

The Lazy Bee Property

Welcome to our journey in finding the perfect property! After a year of searching and facing several setbacks, we’ve finally discovered a place that feels just right. However, it involved some compromise from our initial wishlist. Here’s what we were looking for.


  1. Clean and reliable water supply.
  2. A manageable size of land.
  3. Fertile soil for gardening.
  4. Balanced rainfall.
  5. Moderate weather conditions.

Desirable Extras:

  1. A comfortable living space.
  2. Storage or workshop space.
  3. Access to mains power.

Our budgeting approach has always been unconventional, but we’ve made it work. If you’ve read our past posts, you know our financial journey has been a learning curve.

The soil composition on our land has posed a significant challenge, being predominantly sandy. This type of soil, while excellent for drainage, often lacks the nutrients and water retention properties essential for robust plant growth. We discovered, much to our initial dismay, that plants in sandy soil can struggle to establish and thrive due to these deficiencies. This led us to the vital lesson of soil testing — a step we initially overlooked. By testing the soil, we gained insights into its pH level, nutrient content, and overall composition. This knowledge has been instrumental in helping us amend the soil appropriately, adding organic matter, compost, and specific fertilizers to balance its properties. Soil testing has become a routine part of our gardening process, ensuring we provide the best possible environment for our plants.

Another unique aspect of our property is the presence of Caliche, a layer of sedimentary rock, often calcium carbonate, found beneath the topsoil. Caliche presents a double-edged sword for our agricultural endeavors. On one hand, its impermeable nature hinders water drainage and can restrict root growth, creating a challenging environment for many plants. On the other hand, its solidity and structural integrity offer unique opportunities. We are exploring ways to incorporate Caliche into our landscaping and construction plans creatively. For instance, we envision using it as a natural foundation for building structures like retaining walls or pathways, capitalizing on its durability and stability. Additionally, the Caliche layer can be a boon in managing water usage; by limiting deep percolation, it can help in conserving water in the upper soil layers, which is a critical consideration in our arid environment.

In our landscaping endeavors, we are experimenting with plants that are well-adapted to these soil conditions. Plants native to arid and semi-arid environments, which are accustomed to sandy soils and limited water, are becoming a focal point of our gardening strategy. We’re also exploring xeriscaping principles, creating a landscape that requires minimal water and maintenance, yet is aesthetically pleasing and sustainable in the long run.

Overall, our approach to dealing with the sandy soil and the Caliche layer is one of adaptation and innovation. We’re learning to work with the land, not against it, using its unique features to our advantage. It’s a process of continuous learning and adjustment, but one that is deeply rewarding as we watch our land transform into a thriving, sustainable environment.

Adelaide’s weather can be quite the enigma, presenting a tapestry of climatic quirks that keep us on our toes, especially when it comes to gardening. The summers here are famously hot, often turning our backyard into a sunbather’s paradise, but not so much for our heat-sensitive plants. These scorching days can transform even the hardiest garden into a struggle for survival. We’ve had to learn the art of mulching, shading, and efficient watering to ensure our green friends don’t turn into crispy critters under the relentless sun.

But just when you think you’ve got a handle on the heat, Adelaide throws a curveball with its occasional frost. It’s like Mother Nature decides to test our plants’ resilience with a chilly surprise. These frosty mornings can be particularly tough on our more tender plants, which aren’t accustomed to such cold snaps. We’ve become quite adept at frost-proofing, using covers to shield our vulnerable plants on those unexpectedly cold nights. It’s a bit like tucking them in with a warm blanket, hoping they’ll make it through till morning.


Learning to adapt to these extremes has been a journey of trial and error. We’ve had to experiment with plant varieties that can withstand the heat yet survive the occasional frost. It’s a delicate balancing act, choosing plants that love the sun but can also handle a cold spell. We’ve also delved into the world of companion planting and creating microclimates within our garden, which helps buffer our plants against the whims of the weather.

Moreover, we’re discovering the importance of timing in gardening. Planting cycles are crucial in Adelaide’s unpredictable climate. Getting the timing right can mean the difference between a thriving garden and a withering one. We pay close attention to weather forecasts, sometimes planting earlier or later in the season to outsmart the weather’s fickleness.

In essence, gardening in Adelaide is like being a weather detective, constantly deciphering clues and adapting strategies. It’s about being proactive, resilient, and sometimes a bit creative in protecting and nurturing our plants. With each season, we learn a little more, becoming better equipped to handle whatever the skies throw our way.

Rainfall in our region is a rare guest, making every drop a precious commodity. This scarcity of rain has elevated the importance of our two rainwater tanks, which have become crucial elements in our sustainability efforts. Despite the limited rainfall, these tanks are our lifeline for water conservation and garden irrigation, especially during the drier months.

The first of our tanks, although smaller in capacity, performs efficiently, capturing whatever rainwater it can. This tank has become a symbol of our efforts to adapt and make the most of the natural resources available to us. We use this water primarily for our garden, ensuring that our plants receive the hydration they need without exhausting the local water supply. It’s a delicate balance, managing the water levels to sustain the garden while being prepared for long stretches without rain.

The second tank, larger in capacity, unfortunately, has its challenges. Its efficiency is compromised, akin to a container with a slow leak. The issue lies in its design and material; being a concrete tank, it’s prone to cracks and seepage. However, we view this not as a setback but as an opportunity for innovation and repair. We’re exploring various methods to seal and refurbish the tank, aiming to enhance its water retention capabilities. This tank’s potential to store a significant amount of rainwater is too valuable to overlook, especially in an environment where water is as good as gold.

In light of these circumstances, water management has become an integral part of our daily routine. We’ve learned to use water judiciously, prioritizing essential needs and employing water-saving techniques wherever possible. For instance, we utilize mulching in our garden to reduce evaporation and retain moisture in the soil, and we’ve incorporated drip irrigation systems to ensure that water goes directly to the plants’ roots with minimal waste.

Moreover, we’re continuously exploring alternative methods to supplement our water supply. Rainwater harvesting is one aspect, but we’re also looking into greywater systems, where water from showers and sinks can be repurposed for garden use. Every strategy that helps us maximize our water usage is a step towards a more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle.

In essence, our limited rainfall and the condition of our rainwater tanks have taught us valuable lessons in resource management and conservation. These challenges have spurred us to become more innovative, resourceful, and appreciative of every drop of water we can collect and use. It’s a continuous journey towards creating a sustainable living space that respects and harmonizes with our natural environment.

The property includes a basic shack, left by the previous owner, an impressive octogenarian with a rich history with the land. We took over this property as it was, ready to embrace its quirks and potential.

Our blog aims to share not just our experiences but also practical insights and lessons learned along the way. It’s about the journey, the challenges, and the opportunities that come with taking on a project like this.

We invite you to engage with us. What interests you or sparks your curiosity? We’re here to explore and discuss a variety of topics. Join us in this adventure and let’s discover the joys and challenges of transforming a space into a home together!

Hello world?

Tick, tick, tick… that’s the rhythm I hear in my head, as if my life is playing a relentless game of beat the clock. A millennium ago, I made a solemn pledge to liberate myself from the clutches of this soul-siphoning corporate existence and dive headfirst into my own passions. While I am still a ways off from reaching that dream, at least I have started.

My wife and I have finally begun the journey into living a life of self-sufficiency. The poor thing made one questionable life decision about two decades ago, and well, she’s been stuck with me ever since. Together, we’re like a dynamic duo of ADHD enthusiasts darting from one shiny thing to the next.

I guess the best way to describe us would be as generalists. It might be easier to list the things we haven’t tried rather than what we’ve actually attempted. We’ve dabbled in everything from running a cosmetics business to globe-trotting (lived in three countries and counting), and we’ve been die-hard beekeepers. Oh, and don’t forget our roller derby phase.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve ventured into woodworking, pottery-making, gardening, sewing, selling skating gear, brewing our own booze, mastering the art of kombucha alchemy, and preserving food in every way possible – drying, pickling, bottling, smoking – you name it.

However, there’s one tiny, minuscule problem: We’re fantastic at starting things but, uh, not so great at finishing them. Hence, the birth of this blog – it’s our way of staying brutally honest with ourselves and attempting to stay on the straight and narrow (well, most of the time).

We have a strong interest in being as self-sufficient as possible, but to be honest, that is less than unique in the times we find ourselves in. I guess we more strive to do varied and interesting things on a daily basis and strive to break out of the “Groundhog Day” routine we find ourselves in.

In moments of reflection, there’s no point in pointing fingers – the blame for this modern-day misadventure falls squarely on my own shoulders. It’s really hard to motivate oneself to get things done. But as we age, we have improved and hope to share some ways that may help you if you suffer from the same fate. To chase our dreams of being self-sufficient, self-reliant, and emancipating ourselves from the monotony of daily life.

We had been looking for some land to start our adventure but money was a big sticking point. We managed to find a really nice acreage cheap but unfortunately, it had no real water supply and lousy rainfall. We get a whopping 350mm of rain a year, which, if you’re keeping score, is about 14 inches. Not great, but we figured we could drill a well. Our neighbours had one that produces pristine water at only 20m.

The land is practically a desert-loving, mallee bush gum paradise at least. Sure, it’s as flat as a pancake, but it’s teeming with surprises and beauty. And honestly, when I’m out there, in the midst of all that wild wonder, I can’t help but feel truly alive.

So, we’ve decided to dive headfirst into this adventure, even though we only get one precious day or two a week to make it all happen at this stage. Having two kids in high school and no place to live on our land meant a temporary pause in living on our land full time.

This blog? It’s going to be a hilarious rollercoaster ride through our quest for self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and scratching our ADHD-fueled itches. We hope that it will be informative to others making the journey and connect us with people who can help us along the way.

So, welcome to the show, let’s hope we can make it a good one.