Rainwater harvesting is a simple and relatively inexpensive idea that can have long reaching positive effects on the environment. As more and more states face drought conditions and water shortages, it is becoming a necessity to make use of the water nature provides. And with so many people concerned about the chemicals that many city and town water treatments systems use, it is important for our health as well. That’s why capturing and harvesting rainwater is becoming such a popular option.
Obviously, water is an essential part of life. Every living thing, from plants to animals to humans requires water to survive. Yet the more we build, the more we put our natural water system at risk. Common building materials like asphalt, concrete and roofing shingles prevent water from soaking into the ground and completing the natural cycle by returning to the lakes, rivers and reservoirs that serve as sources of our water supply.
Fortunately, rainwater harvesting provides a solution for this problem.
“Through the simple act of capturing, redirecting and reusing rainwater we can save money, improve the environment and improve our health at the same time.”
In fact, this concept has become so universally accepted that many communities across the country not only encourage but also require rainwater use. There are still some states that regulate against the harvesting of rainwater, but most are coming to recognize the potential of this practice.
So how exactly can you go about capturing and harvesting rainwater in your backyard?
There are several different methods, all of which are simple to do and can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.
The most common method is the use of a rain barrel. The theory here is simple; you direct the rain as it comes down, usually by using a chain for it to drip off of or by directing the end of your downspout into a barrel and collect the rainwater.
You can use almost any type of container for rainwater harvesting, including trash cans, wine casks or container gardens. Some home improvement and garden supply stores sell barrels that range in size from 50 to 250 gallons. And depending on your average local rainfall, this can be a very cost-effective process. Just one inch of rain collected using a drip chain can fill up to two 1,700 gallon containers in some areas. That water can then be used for watering your lawn and plants, bathing, cooking, drinking or anything else you need it for.
Some rain barrels even feature a slow release so that the water can be allowed to run off into the soil in a more controlled manner, preventing unnecessary damage. If you’re worried about water quality or about attracting pests, you can customize your rain barrel with a spigot, a water filter or mosquito netting. The possibilities are almost limitless, and it allows you to be personally in control of your own water system, so you know exactly what is in your water and don’t have to worry about dangerous chemical treatments.
Another option for rainwater harvesting is creating a rain garden. This is not only a wonderful way to ensure that rainwater is being reused properly but also to improve the ecosystem in your backyard. You can create this mini garden either beside a pond if you happen to have one, or near a downspout, where excess rainwater will naturally be in good supply. The idea is to create an indentation in the soil, making an area for water to collect and naturally soak back into the ground. You can even include water loving plants to make the garden more attractive.
Building a rain garden is simple. If you have a pond, all you need to do is dig a 3 or 4-inch indentation next to the pond, then lower the pond liner beside it so that when the water level rises it will naturally spill over into the rain garden. Make sure you loosen up the soil at the base of the water garden slightly so that the water will be able to be absorbed easier.
You can still get the enjoyment of rainwater harvesting with a rain garden even if you don’t have a pond. All you need to do is dig your indentation a few feet from the exit point of your downspout. Again, loosen the soil to improve absorption and add sand and organic matter. Then dig a small trench and lay a drain pipe that leads from the downspout to the rain garden. Plant the garden with a few water-loving plants, and you’ve created a natural means for collecting and re-using rainwater.
Not only will capturing and harvesting rainwater help to reduce flooding and erosion, but it can also improve the growth of your landscape. Filtered rainwater is healthier for you, your pets, and your lawn and garden, so it’s a win on all levels. It’s the safe and easy way to give you peace of mind, knowing that you are providing clean, healthy water for your home and family that is free from chemicals and other pollutants.
“With a minimal amount of time, effort and money spent on your part you can help the environment and reduce your living expenses by cutting back the amount you spend on water.”
There’s almost no reason not to give rainwater harvesting a try unless it is specifically restricted in your area. So by all means, find out what your local regulations are and if it is possible, why not try capturing and harvesting nature’s natural liquid bounty right in your own backyard?
Decker’s Landscape & Aquatics can help with the installation of your rainwater harvesting system. Contact us today!