How to keep your garden green for less with a rainwater collection system


With the summer yard-care season in full swing, household water use is up and conservation warnings aren't far behind. Before your water bills get too hot to handle, why not free water for your yard by installing a rainwater collection system.

Rainwater collection is actually a time-honored solution predating our modern municipal water treatment facilities. Compact and easy to assemble, contemporary systems are great resources for your non-potable water needs, and can help trim typically high water bills during the summer months.

Here's all you need to catch free seasonal rainwater:

  • A collection area: In other words, your roof. Most roofing materials are safe for contact with water that will be used for outdoor watering chores involving non-potable water. However, if you've got a vegetable or herb garden in the mix, plan to water it from another source, as some roofing types like asphalt shingles can leach toxins that shouldn't come in contact with edibles.

  • A means of transporting the rainwater to storage: Gutters, piping and downspouts will carry water to your collection barrel. Gutters that are kept clean and in good repair will help you get the most out of every rainfall and prevent the buildup of possible contaminants. And as with roofing, be aware of gutters' construction; gutters with soldered seams are typically older and may leach lead, so gutters with riveted seams are preferred.