How rainwater harvesting can save your plants, save rain and save your water bill
Like many sustainable options out there, rainwater harvesting can be healthy for your environment AND your wallet. We have this abundant thing that comes from the sky: rain. In places like Phoenix (where Steady Glow Digital is located) it can be somewhat rare. We can go three months without a single drop. But when it does rain, it can rain A LOT. With the increasing cost of water usage in the southwest along with rapid development, it makes good sense to collect rainwater if you can.
Below you’ll find some simple tips on how to collect rainwater. We’ll mention some great tools to collect and store it while keeping mosquitoes at bay.
Step One: Observe
This is the easiest step of them all. Sometimes, you can recognize areas along your roofline that naturally drop a lot of water. Maybe these are the spots that always seemed so annoying before because it splashed all over your porch or left a huge puddle next to your car. Now you can see them as an easy way to eliminate the step of installing rain gutters. If you haven’t noticed this before, just watch what happens the next time it rains and see if there are any locations like this where more water collects.
Potential Step Two: Install Rain Gutters
If you don’t notice any areas where water collects, you may need to install a rain gutter along your roof’s edge. Even if you do have areas where rain collects more than others, a rain gutter will enable rainwater harvesting, even faster. Most home improvement stores sell these for an affordable price. They even provide instructional videos on how to install them, like under these Home Depot products. You will need to know the approximate length of your roofline. Keep in mind, you don’t need to do your entire house. Running a gutter along one edge of your roof might just be enough. Be sure to situate a downspout in the area you want to position your barrel.
Step Three: Buy or Build a Rain Barrel
This is probably where some people get hung up. While it may seem more affordable to build your own rain barrel, it can sometimes keep us from getting started harvesting rainwater. There are plenty of affordable, pre-built rain barrels that are even made in the USA that you can have delivered to your door. The Rain Wizard 50 from Good Ideas is affordable, well-designed, sturdy and can store up to fifty gallons. That may sound like a lot, but it will fill up fast! It has a spigot and a screen at the top to keep out debris and large bugs. It might be good to start out with this fifty-gallon size and then decide if you need more or a larger barrel. If you ever want to add to your capacity, barrels can be chained together so one overflows to the other. If you’re building your own rain barrel, make sure you include a spigot with threads so you can attach a hose.
Step Four: Set Up a Stand for Your Barrel
Cinder blocks, bricks or even a custom-made stand should be used to raise your barrel up from the ground. This makes it so you can easily fit a watering can underneath the spigot or room to attach a hose.
Step Five: Control Mosquitoes
All that standing water can make a home for breeding mosquitoes. Keep them away with all-natural mosquito dunks. These dunks last for thirty days and are safe for your garden.
Step Six: Get a Little Overly Excited About Harvesting Rainwater for the Very First Time
It worked! There’s rain in the barrel and you now have (probably) fifty gallons of water your garden will love you for. Why will your garden love you so much? Rainwater is softer, has better pH and after storage can include lots of juicy microorganisms your soil craves. Ever notice how much happier a garden look after a rainfall versus a tap watering? Another pleasant surprise? Your rain barrel filled up FAST. One heavy rain can fill up a fifty gallon barrel in minutes.
Step Seven: Water, Off the Grid
Whether you use a watering can, a bucket or a hose, you can now utilize your saved rainwater for your garden. If you decide to use a hose, try to keep it under 50 feet long. This will provide a shorter path from the barrel to your garden without wasting water stuck in your hose. Remember, the water is not pressurized so you won’t receive the same type of water flow you get from your tap. It ends up being a little more like a trickle but slow, deep water is usually the best for many plants, especially vegetables.
We hope this guide on rainwater harvesting has you excited about tapping in to our free, natural resources. With a little thinking ahead, we can make a huge impact on how we utilized our already-strained infrastructure of water, electricity and gas!