Rainwater Harvesting and Using Rain Barrels for Gardening

Rainwater Harvesting Systems is an important system and had been in used since many centuries through the world. In industrialized countries, rainwater harvesting systems have been developed for the purpose of reducing water bills, watering crops, or providing drinking water. In many countries where there is a shortage of clean water, rain water is the main source for providing water for both drinking and for cultivating crops. In these countries, rain water are collected from trees and houses using leaves or stems. The more advance countries use sophisticated filtration and catchment tanks. Harvesting rainwater is growing in usage once more due to diminishing resources and an ever growing population.

One of the easiest way to store rain water is the use of rain barrels. These barrels can hold up to 55 gallons of water which can be used for gardening. There are various types of rain barrels available in UK, You need to buy according to your need. We will be discussing in details about rain barrel later in this article.

Benefits of rain water harvesting
The harvested rainwater can be used for potable purposes. It can be used for people and animals (usually livestock). Often it is used for watering gardens and food crops. The surplus water, after usage, can be used for recharging ground water aquifer through artificial recharge techniques. This can also result in improving the quality of the ground water, e.g. less fluoride content in the ground water.

When captured and stored correctly, rainwater is an economical and sustainable source of water. Although close to three fourths of our planet is made of water, not all of it is suitable for use. Most rural households have to source all their water on their property, and rainwater often provides a better quality household supply than river, bore or dam water. By creating a rain garden, you can help protect the watershed from storm water pollution and you get to enjoy the beauty of a low-maintenance garden filled with native plants. Compared to mains water – which is stored in dams and treated with chemicals – rainwater is considered to be a safer, higher quality and more cost-effective alternative.

  • The water in the oceans and seas cannot be used as drinking water and little of it can be utilized for other purposes.
  • Rainwater harvesting is not just for rural areas though.
  • Safe drinking water from local drinking water systems or private wells originates in ground water, streams, rivers, springs or lakes – this is called a watershed.
  • Installing a rainwater harvesting system is a cost-effective and low-maintenance alternative to water recycling on its own.
  • As a result, there is a constant shortage of water that is either good for drinking or home and industrial use.
  • Although urban households may be connected to a reticulated, treated (mains) water supply, rainwater harvesting can significantly lower mains water usage. t is important to note that only those properties fitted with a water meter will benefit financially from rainwater collection systems.

Protection of all water sources in the watershed requires the combined efforts of municipalities, water systems managers, conservation agencies, farmers and individuals. These days, many companies even consider integrating rainwater harvesting systems from the planning stages of their new site, rather than leaving it as an afterthought. Areas on the planet that have long faced water shortage were able to combat this problem by harvesting what little rain water they received. Those who do not have a meter and pay a flat rate for water will not see much in the way of financial return, as the amount of drinking water saved will make no difference to the eventual bill (though the ecological effect is still sizeable). More and more people are starting to turn to a metered water provision, even if they have a large family.

Rainwater Harvesting systems can capture the natural rain fall for later use. When harvesting rainwater in this way, the water that you’ll be left with will be relatively pure and free from toxins and minerals. Due to a range of factors which include increased infrastructure costs, unpredictable weather patterns and increased consumption across the country; water bills are rising and are likely to continue to do so for quite some time. Being on a meter can save a large amount if your initial water usage is low (in some cases halving the bill) but it can also prompt you to be more conscious of recycling and not taking this valuable asset for granted. The storm water retention systems divert water from roofs or a matrix of pipes into underground rainwater tanks before they ever become contaminated by the earth or any chemicals placed there by the water companies.

You can then use it for sprinklers in your garden, for watering your home-grown vegetable patch, for filling up your pond, for washing your car and for a lot of other related household chores that require water. In addition to increased water costs, many homes & businesses are looking to become greener, more efficient and more self reliant and look towards these technologies as sound investments. Of course, there could be some natural contaminants from rooftops or even birds and insects but Rainwater Harvesting systems are developed to manage this effectively. Rainwater Harvesting is one of the quickest and easiest ways for you reduce water consumption and become more efficient.

Rain water and gardening

rain barrel in UKGardeners can play a key role in conserving freshwater by harvesting rainwater. Determining how much water your roof collects can involve lots of complex calculations. Stored rainwater contains some organic matter. During the summer, much of our potable water is used outdoors. In addition to reducing demand on our water supplies—especially important during drought and summer (when 40 percent of all water is used outdoors)—rainwater harvesting reduces water pollution.

  • But all you really need to do is figure how much water your garden will need and if your roof can collect that much.
  • If collected from your rooftop, rainwater contains traces of organic material.
  • We fill our pools, wash our cars and water our lawns and gardens.
  • In a rainstorm, oil, pesticides, animal waste, and fertilizers from our lawns, sidewalks, driveways, and streets are washed into sewers that often overflow into rivers and estuaries, contaminating fish and other wildlife.
  • The gardener who’s going to irrigate a large vegetable patch in the desert Southwest will need a lot more water than the one dousing a few container plants on a patio in the Midwest.
  • While the water is very clean and should run clear, it has been exposed to anything on your roof.

This water must be chemically treated to make it safe for drinking. which is great for you, but not necessarily great for your plants. The most common tank materials are plastic (polyethylene), concrete, and coated steel. The rule of thumb is the average 25 foot by 40 foot home roof sheds about 600 gallons of water in an hour of moderate rainfall, around 1 inch. We’re not talking about chunks (these get pre-filtered out on their way into properly-designed rain barrels)–we’re just talking about contact exposure to leaf litter, pollen, bird droppings and the like (which perhaps not surprisingly are great for your plants). A rain barrel hosts a beneficial biology to keep the water alive – literally.

Collecting rainwater for gardening can eliminate many of these chemical salts and harmful minerals from your soil. The type of material you select depends on your budget, the size of tank, water use and whether the tank will be sited above or below ground. If you have two downspouts, they’ll each divert about 300 gallons of water toward the barrel under them. It’s like a light application of fertilizer every time you water. Rainwater is naturally soft. Modern steel tanks have a long life polymer coating on the inside and a wide range of shapes and sizes are available. The more barrels you have, the more of this water you can collect. Fresh, treated mains water isn’t all that great for the environment – or the garden. The less water used from your local treatment facility, the fewer chemicals they have to use and the less money they have to spend on those chemicals. Domestic wastewater (known as ‘grey water’) may also be used in the garden. There are a range of slim-line designs suitable for urban sections available.

Even many experienced gardeners have trouble comprehending just how much water soil can hold. For a start it has to be extracted from somewhere. This may be from the kitchen, the washing machine or baths, basins and showers. ‘Black water’ from WCs should always be consigned to the sewerage system and never used in the garden. Concrete tanks are strong and can be sited below the ground. Except in areas with consistently high rainfall, your garden soil’s moisture level will seldom be at “field capacity.” That’s the term scientists use to describe the maximum amount of water a soil can hold.

Then it has to be purified then stored, before finally being pumped into our homes. Water from septic tanks is best not used either. Plastic is tough, durable and relatively lightweight, and – like steel – there are a wide range of sizes and shapes suitable for urban environments. When it rains or when we irrigate, gravity pulls the water down into the soil. This requires (a) a lot of energy and (b) an inordinate volume of chemicals to treat the water. Household soaps and detergents are harmless to plants, but water containing bleaches, disinfectants, dishwasher salt and stronger cleaning products should not be used, as they can harm plants and even damage soil structure if used long-term on soil.

After a heavy rain, some of the water may move all the way down to the water table or the bedrock, but a large amount of it is held by capillary forces that cause water to coat each soil particle and partially fill the spaces between particles. Extracting and storing this water often disrupts natural ecosystems and/or lowers water tables, which in turn can threaten fertile farmland. And when it does finally get to us, our fruits and vegetables don’t much care for it, preferring instead the natural balance and purity of highly oxygenated rainwater.

Why use Rain Barrels and buying guide

rain barrel for gardeningA rain barrel is essentially a large tank with a spigot that sits under your home’s gutter downspout to harvest rainwater from your roof. Winterize your rain barrel system when temperatures are below 41-deg. The simplest rain barrel setup requires a storage tank (water barrel), a secure lid, a basket strainer or screen, and a spigot or drain valve. The amount of water you harvest from your roof depends on how many barrels you use. You can make one for just a few dollars, or you can purchase a basic model for around $50 to $100.

  • Water flows off of the roof into the gutter, then enters the downspout and pours through the basket strainer attached to the lid of the barrel.
  • In a perfect example, with wooden rain barrels under all of your downspouts to harvest all of the runoff from your roof, 1 inch of rain (on a 1,000-sq.-ft. roof) can yield approximately 600 gallons of water.
  • A more decorative model will cost upwards of $300.
  • By completely draining the barrel.

Rainwater can be retrieved directly from the spigot at the bottom of the barrel, or a hose can be attached by which the water can be directed to the desired location. Since there can be issues such as gutter leaks or clogs, subtract about 20 percent of that total for a more accurate total (approx. 480 gallons). You can also look up you area’s average monthly rainfall and using the square footage of your roof, determine your potential amount of harvested rain water. Rain barrels come in all sorts of materials, from durable stainless steel to fiberglass and recycled plastic, so let personal preference be your guide. If storing outside, be sure to turn the barrel upside down and place a heavy object on top to keep it from blowing away. You’ll find something to match every design motif, from sleek and contoured modern vessels to classic terra cotta urns and rustic faux wooden barrels.

Retrieving your water can be done with a spigot, electric or manual pump. Some retailers even sell rain barrels made from old whiskey or wine barrels, probably a more sustainable choice, saving materials from ending up in a landfill. Emptied rain barrels can also be stored in a shed, garage or basement during the winter months. If you’re trying to keep a low profile, consider a rain barrel disguised as a rock, or even a rain barrel disguised as a brick wall. Most tanks are equipped with a regular garden spigot at the bottom of the tank that can be hooked up to a garden hose.

A barrel full of rain may be good for your garden, but dangerous for a small child or the family pet. Rain barrels are for water collection and outdoor use only. There’s something for everyone, and the sky is the limit with the new designs that have been hitting the market for the past several years. If you have a larger barrel of system, a pump can be used to retrieve the water. Check your barrel for specific design elements that prevent it from tipping over. Rainwater harvested from roofs can contain animal and bird feces, windblown dust, pesticides and particles from pollution making it unsuitable for drinking. Since hand pumps need to be worked manually, electric pumps are easier to use but are more expensive. For example, many barrels come with a flat back so it can be attached to the side of the house or a fence. No other uses are recommended.

Protect your home’s siding with a sheet of wood inserted between the downspout and the siding to prevent damage. In order to find the best rain barrel to suit your needs, you’ll need to consider several factors – the amount of water you can harvest, your intended use for the water, the materials used for the barrel, the area where your barrel will be installed, and more. We’ve laid out all of the most important factors in the rain barrel buying guide below, along with some general guidelines to help you narrow down your choices.