Gardening takes water and for most of us that means an increase in our water bill during the hot summer months. Statistics show that lawn and garden watering make up at least 40% of our total household water use. Frugal gardeners, however, can take advantage of rainwater by bringing back an age old, low tech system of collecting water from your roofs and gutter systems into rain barrels, or cisterns as they have been called. By harvesting rain water, you can keep your little corner of the world green, decrease storm water run off and cut costs all at the same time.
One inch of rain on a 1,000 square foot roof will produce 600 gallons of water. Capture just some of that chemical free rain in a container of any kind and you’ll be able to keep your veggie garden thriving and your flowers blooming all season, with no added expense. Your plants will thrive with the natural rain water compared to water from municipal systems and the chemicals they typically add. Rain water is a free source of soft water and also excellent for your houseplants.
Most rain barrels now come with the fittings for hooking up a hose, so getting started is as simple as locating a barrel under a gutter and screwing in your hose. If you have a very small garden plot, or only use small containers, you can opt for a simpler system. Locate a barrel under a downspout and just dip your watering can in when you are planning to water your plants and containers. Either way, you’re set! Each time it rains, you can store water up for the dry days or the days you’re not to water due to summer rationing schedules. Only of rainfall runoff from an average size roof will fill a typical rain barrel.
Due to the amount of water coming off a roof, it is important to have a plan for over flow. Either a valve to switch tanks or the low tech method of going out and moving the downspout away from the already full barrel will keep from having a mini Niagara Falls next to a buildings’ foundation.
As with anything that holds water, be sure your system has a child proof, secure lid to prevent accidents. You might also want to screen the opening to your container, not only keeping debris out of the water, but discouraging mosquitoes from breeding.
Here’s a list of a few of the companies that carry water barrels and supplies to set up a water storage system. Remember, your system can be as simple or as complex as you have time and money for. Just the savings from setting up one downspout and a barrel will make a difference. What frugal gardener doesn’t want to tap into a free resource?
Before purchasing anything, be sure to check with the water department where you live to see if they are sponsoring a Rain Water Harvesting project. Many cities are encouraging rain barrels as a method of conservation and will either offer the barrels at a reduced price or give rebates if you purchase your barrel elsewhere. Others are offering workshops and supplies to build your own systems.
Rain barrels are one of the simplest, cheapest ways to conserve water, allowing us to treat rain water as a resource and not a waste. Think about ways you can add a rain harvesting system to your property and help make it a healthier and more environmentally friendly space.