Collecting and using rain water for your garden is good for the environment and can save you money. This is a guide about harvesting rain.
Make your own rain barrels with what you have, practically free. My husband asked around at local companies and came up with white plastic barrels. The rest he already had in his shop. He then connected them to our gutters and added a spigot at the bottom, to let gravity feed the water out. He even put screen where the gutter goes into barrel to keep out trash. He connects the water hose to spigot and waters the flowers. We waste less water and always have extra water for the flowers. They don't look bad either, you could paint them if you like. It's been dry in NC and every drop of water saved is an advantage and we don't have to water from our well.
By Wanda from Climax, NC
If you have a downspout on the side of your house or garage that directs water away from your house, you're potentially letting a big part of your water bill wash down the rain gutter. Just 1 inch of rain on a 1000 sq ft roof yields a whopping 62.3 gallons of water! While this water might not be fit for human consumption, reclaiming it for use on the yard and garden make good financial and environmental sense.
The total cost for this project is about $50 for materials (assuming you have the drill). This cost can be reduced considerably if you scour re-use centers or junkyards for used parts.
With all the talk of saving water, I have not seen a suggestion to save rain water. Why let it run into the street? You can buy special rain water savers but why not make your own. Direct your drain spout into a large garbage bin and siphon the water out with a hose to where ever you want to water.
Looking for creative ways to harvest rain. Rain barrels used to be a dime a dozen, but now that environmentalism is all the rage, it has driven the price way up on previously discarded industrial barrels. I'm looking for truly innovative ideas, not just using ready made products like trash cans.
By yoshhash from Windsor, ON
I buried my Large cheap Trashcans in the ground ( I tied 3 of them together with plumbing so that all 3 are connected) and added a submersible pump, with a hose attached to it. When I need water I plug in the pump and water away. You will have to innovative about the dangers of buried trashcans, you can also use a trash can and cover or decorate it using bricks, landscape timbers, or whatever, of course you will fill this with rainwater from the roof.
Please, please, please cover your cans, after the rain! This will not only prevent debris from clogging your pipes and evaporation losses. Still water is a great place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. No still water please! Don't make your back yard a haven for mosquitoes.
Here is a video that shows you to make you own rain barrel system for harvesting rain water.
This is the rain barrel we installed last summer. We live in the southwest high desert where it is arid, but we receive summer monsoon rains. By using our rain barrel, we used almost no fresh water on our vegetable garden last year. We bought the 55 gallon barrel from the local flea market for $20. It had held Dr Pepper syrup and smelled good! :-) We bought the faucet parts for a little over $10.
First, cut out the hole in the top, then drill out a hole near the bottom and reach in and attach the faucet parts. There will be a nut on the inside and the faucet on the outside. Run a bead of silicone caulk to make sure nothing leaks. We had the hardware cloth on hand and used small zip ties to attach it. It doesn't keep mosquitoes out, but with three preschoolers in our family, we were more concerned about keeping them out than keeping mosquitoes out. If that isn't a concern for you, you can use window screen for the top.
Our downspout was loose, so we removed the bottom section of pipe, pulled it out from the wall a little, and put the barrel up under it and rested it on some stacked bricks for a gravity flow. I've also seen barrels in my neighborhood with the downspout pipe shortened and directed to flow through the mesh into the barrel.
After the winter thaw and things warmed up, there was a lot of algae growing in the barrel's standing water. The garden plants don't care!
By Katie from Gallup, New Mexico
What a wonderful idea! (06/06/2007)
It is a good idea. I wanted to do this but my down spout i just can't get loose without wreaking it. (06/07/2007)
By Joyce wis
I am totally, unequivocably in favor of saving water! Our house is under construction, so no gutters yet, but I do have a little bit of info...
We have purchased barrels for $5 from a car wash supply. Bear in mind that some of the chemicals that were in them are toxic. If possible, go for the ones that just held soap, and then triple rinse (at least!)
With West Nile being the problem that it is, could you add window screen over the hardware cloth? Also, if you never drain it completely, adding a couple of inexpensive goldfish to eat the mosquito larvae and algae can be very beneficial.
Speaking of algae, I have learned the hard way that some kinds can cause serious damage to animals, so be careful if you've got an accumulation, that animals (and kids) can't get into the water for a drink.
We used to live on a farm where the older couple who homesteaded it were the very definition of "thrifty". They had gutters set up on a small barn, and by moving one piece to different tanks, we could fill up three horse water tanks with a total capacity of about 900 gallons. Considering that the well water was no good and all water had to be hauled from town, that made a HUGE difference. Most people don't realize that the amount of water that comes off a normal roof in a normal rain is incredible! (06/07/2007)
The mosquito issue is easily resolved by putting a couple of 29 cent feeder goldfish in the barrel to live. They'll take care of any bugs. (06/07/2007)
We're just getting ready to do this at our house. Thank you so much for the instructions and the pictures. (06/08/2007)
What happens when the barrel is full? Do you just let the water over flow? (09/03/2008)
We've built over a dozen rain barrels and put together a website to help people through the process. Please feel free take a look at http://tinyurl.com/2vuyus where you will find thorough construction information and tips, rainfall calculator, water safety discussion, and more. Happy watering! (10/07/2008)