Good for Plants
Rainwater is always a good source for plants. It's free of salts and other minerals that can harm plants and root growth. The harvesting of rainwater can be used in a large-scale environment, such as schools, parks, office parks, etc. But in the home landscape, it's a relatively easy and inexpensive system to set up and maintain.
Good for the Wallet
After the initial cost of installation (if any), all the water collected and used is free. Not only will you be realizing the savings in real dollars, but more importantly, you'll be conserving and protecting a valuable resource as well.
The wise use of water for garden and lawn watering not only helps protect the environment, but saves money. In addition, calculated and efficient use of water provides optimum growing conditions. There are several simple ways of reducing the amount of water; including growing low water use species (xeriphytic species - plants that are adapted to dry conditions), mulching, adding water retaining organic matter to the soil, and installing windbreaks and fences to slow winds and reduce water evaporation. In addition, water drip water techniques offer an efficient use of available water. Watering in the early morning before the sun is intense helps reduce the water lost from evaporation. Installing rain gutters and collecting water from downspouts also helps reduce water use.
Efficient Watering Methods
There are several methods that will provide efficient and effective water to plants and vegetables; Trickle or drip irrigation systems help reduce water use, but at the same time meet the needs of plants. These methods use very small amounts of water to supply the base and roots of the plants with water – routinely watering with a small amount. Because the water is applied directly to the soil, rather to the top of the plant, water evaporation is reduced. Many gallons of water are needlessly wasted when sprayed over an entire garden.
Jack's Rain Barrels
This Rain Barrel is a recycled 45 to 55 gallon food container made of plastic, and is terra-cotta in color. It comes with a screw top lid that makes it adjustable to insert a down spout.Approximate dimensions are 23 inches wide by 36 inches high. Lastly, a garden hose can easily be attached to the faucet.
(Great for washing the car or watering the garden!!)
Rainwater harvesting is not new. It has been used around the world for thousands of years. Today, we hear the term more and more, but not in terms of providing potable water for drinking, but as a way to provide an irrigation source for landscaping. For instance a roof area of only 1,000 square feet can provide approximately 600 gallons of water during a one inch rainfall.
Containment systems like rain barrels are becoming popular again as water quantity becomes scarcer and quality becomes more questionable. Areas known for low rainfall amounts have been using these systems for decades.
The most basic form of rainwater harvesting is simply collecting the water and distributing it immediately to the plants. It's no surprise this method is referred to as a "simple" system. Rainwater harvesting using a rain barrels or other collection devices are classified as a "complex" system but don't let the name deter you. Complex systems simply refer to storing the water after it is collected and providing a way to distribute the water later.
The term catchment is any area from where the water is harvested. The amount of water harvested from a catchment depends on its size, surface texture, slope and rainfall received. If your roof is 2,000 square feet, and your area averages 20 inches of rain per year, you can harvest 24,000 gallons of water from your roof each year if you have a container large enough to store it.
Choosing Plants for Low Water Use
Several different plant species exist that require low moisture and reduced water content. Cacti, succulents, and small and narrow leafed evergreens are always excellent choices, however many routine plants from across the United States have adapted to low levels of moisture. Develop garden layouts that use known low moisture plants, and work closely with your local State extension service to select other plants that have adapted to low water levels. Selecting and using plants with lower water usage can provide a beautiful garden and reduce overall water need.