Recycling rainwater for use in your garden can lower your water bill. It's also an ecological strong choice, especially in areas where every drop of water really counts. Designing the optimum system begins with your roof and ends at the tip of your garden hose.
Start With the Gutters
Although it's possible to manage some rainwater collection without gutters, you will collect much more if you have gutters installed on your house. This ensures all the water washing down your roof is routed into your collection barrels.
The gutters will require some maintenance. You will need to keep them free of leaves and debris, so the gutters, down spouts, and eventually the hose remains unclogged. Gutter guards from places like Nebraskaland Siding & Windows are also available, which prevents leaves from collecting in the gutter. These are especially useful in areas where the fall leaf drop coincides with the rainy season.
Pick Your Down Spouts
When getting your gutters installed, make sure the installer knows you will be hooking the system up to a water collection system. This way, the installer can form your spout so the bottom portion easily slides off for insertion into the barrel, and that you can pop it back on when the barrel is full.
They may also install a diverter for you. With a diverter, there is no need to mess with the down spouts when your barrel is full. In this system, you have a spout that goes into the barrel and a secondary spout attached to it that drains to the ground. The diverter automatically switches the roof's water flow to the ground spout when the barrel is at full capacity.
You can choose from specially manufactured rain barrels or DIY barrels made from plastic 50 gallon drums. Don't substitute a trash can – these aren't strong enough to hold the weight of the water. The barrel will need a lid to keep mosquitoes out. A manufactured barrel will come with one. You will need to cut a hole the exact same dimensions as your down spout for a DIY barrel.
Most rain barrel systems are gravity fed, so the hose spigot goes near the bottom of the barrel. The barrel will also need to be elevated so the spigot sits higher than the area you are watering. You can do this by placing the barrel on top of stacked bricks, which form a sturdy base.
If you are trying to maximize rainwater usage, you can also add storage tanks for the excess water. Instead of passing into a relatively small rain barrel, you have a series of tanks connected by hoses that collect the water. The sky is really the limit, so you can design a system that works best for your garden's needs.