After two years of minimal summer rain, the monsoon season has returned – with a vengeance, judging by the flooding some areas have experienced in the last 10 days.
We often talk in this space about being “water-wise” in our dry climate – things like using drip irrigation systems and selecting drought-resistant plants for your garden. Now, with the monsoons returning, we can take advantage of the weather by practicing rainwater harvesting.
There are lots of great reasons to harvest rainwater: lower water bills and general water conservation immediately spring to mind. But it’s also better for your plants since it’s not treated with any chemicals and it reduces soil erosion.
Rain barrels, which can be any container you use to catch water from a downspout, typically have a screen mesh to prevent debris from getting into the container and a spigot allowing you to attach your hose to the barrel and water your plants or grass.
You want to make sure your barrel is on a sturdy platform. Remember, unless you plan to install a pump, your rain barrel will be using gravity to move the water from the barrel through the hose and into your garden or yard, so the additional height will help increase the rate of flow.
Here are a few tips to make using a rain barrel safe and easy:
- You can use emitters and timers with your rain barrel system for distribution, but make sure they are for low-pressure systems. If you get parts that require 10 or 15 pounds of pressure per square inch (PSI), they will not work with your rain barrel.
- Make sure to keep your rain barrel clean; remove any debris that might block the screen mesh and clean the inside regularly to reduce algae growth.
- Keep your rain container out of direct sunlight. That will slow down evaporation of the rainwater you collect and also discourage mosquito breeding.
- Make sure no one drinks from this water. This water is great for your plants, but it’s not potable, so you might want to mark it so and take extra care that your kids and pets don’t try to drink from it.
Properly thought out and installed, rainwater harvesting can be great for you, your wallet and your garden.