Adding rainwater harvesting to your portfolio

Proper training is essential for expanding into these eco-friendly practices.

March 10, 2011
Lindsey Getz

As more people embrace sustainable practices, companies offering these types of solutions are going to prosper. After all, the need for more eco-friendly living is only continuing to grow and intelligent methods for collecting rainwater and managing its usage is a huge part of that effort. The design and installation of rainwater harvesting systems can be a profitable segment for a landscape business. But before jumping in, there are some important factors to consider.

Getting involved with rainwater harvesting and management means first getting educated. Mark Fockele, president of The Fockele Garden Co., says that anybody interested in rainwater collection would be well-served in joining the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) before doing anything else. This nonprofit organization, founded in 1994, promotes the use of more rainwater catchment systems in the United States. “It’s a great organization and they are very experienced,” Fockele says. “They offer an extensive training and certification program which would allow you to ultimately become a certified professional. That’s the most important recommendation I’d make for anyone interested in this line of work.”

In terms of what’s involved with installing a rainwater collection system, Fockele says it’s a combination of jobs that a landscaper may already know how to do. And many would likely already have the equipment required as well. “The work involves things like excavation, piping, drainage and electronic controls,” Fockele says. “So there are no specialized equipment requirements, but certain skills are obviously important.”

While starting up a business segment offering rainwater harvesting and smart water management techniques may not require new equipment, Fockele comes back to the importance of education and training. One of the most important areas to be well-trained in is excavation techniques, particularly with the risk involved. “The holes do need to be pretty big and excavated in a special way so that nobody is in danger of a cave-in while working,” Fockele says. “There’s definitely some danger involved so it’s important to be properly trained.”

In terms of whether there’s a market for this type of work, Fockele says “definitely.” While most people are still more familiar or request more traditional irrigation systems, Fockele says factors like drought and an overall growing awareness of the importance of sustainability is helping naturally promote these techniques. “Certainly the drought here in Georgia has made it easier to help customers learn more about caring for their landscape because it’s made people more aware of the problems,” he says. “Today it’s easier to reach people on this topic than ever before.”


This story is one of three that appeared in Lawn & Landscape's Water Works e-newsletter. To continue reading about Mark Fockele and how he has added sustainable services at his company:

An argument for sustainable landscaping services

Tips for drought-tolerant landscapes: Mark Fockele shares his favorite plants and how to educate clients on watering techniques.