Reusing Rainwater in the Garden

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Rainwater is a healthy choice for your garden ecosystem.

Are you prepared for a long, hot summer? Saving rainwater in the garden allows you to reduce your use of tap water during the summer months and help your garden thrive. If you want a lush garden, plan to collect rainwater during the rainy times to tide your garden over during the dry days. How can you effectively collect that water and ensure that it’s high quality and suitable for growing plants such as garden vegetables? 

Why Use Rainwater to Water Your Plants? 

Rainwater is excellent for your garden. It’s water, and that makes the plants happy. However, according to the Daily News, “Rainwater collection is not just about saving water but about storing up a reserve of high-quality water for irrigation as well.” Calcium and magnesium tend to build up in the water supply and on your plants as well. 

Depending on where you live, sodium may be part of the irrigation water to reduce the hardness of that water, but this can change the way that soil clumps together. Rainwater contains more oxygen than tap water, and it also contains carbon dioxide, which combines with minerals to create slightly acidic rainwater. Acidic rainwater helps release nutrients such as zinc and iron into the soil. While all water might look equal, rainwater is actually a very healthy way to water your plants.

Collecting rainwater also prevents a large rush of water from entering local water bodies when it rains. Creeks and drainage systems can be overwhelmed by the inflow of water during a storm. By using the water slowly in your garden, you allow it to filter into the soil, where it may eventually make its way into the groundwater or into creeks.

Collecting Rainwater Saves Water

It only makes sense that collecting rainwater saves water, but how much water does it save? This depends a lot on how you use water in the garden: what plants you grow, how often and deeply you water, and how much of a lawn you choose to have. In the suburbs during the summer months, outdoor water use can take up 80 percent of the total water use in a home. This comes from watering plants, particularly the lawn. 

If you have multiple rain barrels, you can collect up to 3 barrels’ full when a 1/4 inch of rain falls on your 1000 square foot roof. Home Guides estimates that “A rain barrel can help homeowners save around 1,300 gallons of water, depending on a number of factors, including rain barrel size, placement and usage.”

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There are many different styles of rain barrels.

Ways to Collect Rainwater 

If you want to reuse rainwater in the garden, you’ll usually turn to a rain barrel. There are many different types of rain barrels on the market, including old wooden barrels that you reuse to underground rainwater storage. Most homeowners begin with a simple plastic barrel that may even be flat on one side to tuck tightly onto a wall. Other rain barrels are pop-up and can be compacted when not in use, particularly if there is a danger that the barrel will freeze and experience damage during the winter months. 

Collecting rainwater starts with the water that flows into your gutters and down the downspouts. Gutter guards help ensure that the water collected will be free from debris. Download our free gutter guide for helpful information about the costly damage that could occur without gutter guards installed and the potential savings with an investment in a high quality and dependable gutter guard.

The rain barrel should be connected to the gutters and downspout with a diversion system. 

Some features to look for in a rain barrel include:

  • A debris screen to keep mosquitoes and debris out of the barrel 
  • A flat back to tuck the barrel onto the wall 
  • A lid that opens so that you can easily get water out of the top if you would like to do so 
  • A latch if you have children or animals who might get into the rain barrel 
  • A barrel with an outlet such as a spigot at the bottom of the barrel.

Keeping Your Water Clean

When you’re using a rain barrel, you want to make sure that you don’t accumulate debris in the barrel. Having rotting debris in the barrel can make it smell and affect your water quality. You can reduce the amount of debris by adding a screen to keep it out; however, fine debris such as needles may still slip into the barrel. Cleaning your gutters regularly or installing a gutter cover will help you reduce the amount of debris that lands in your rain barrel.

At Harry Helmet, we understand your home. Work with us to make sure that your home and garden landscape work together. Whether you’re looking for a gutter cover or curious about the cost of a new roof, schedule a free estimate today.

Written by Del Thebaud

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