A rainwater collection system is a great way to reduce water and sprinkler system costs associated with watering your lawn or garden. When the summer yard-care season in full swing, household water use is up and conservation warnings aren’t far behind using a rainwater collection system is a smart idea.
- A rainwater 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.
- A rainwater storage barrel: For best results, purchase a container made especially for rainwater collection. Usually made of toxin-free resin, concrete or fiberglass, proper rain barrels are designed with thick walls that withstand freezing and heat and are opaque to inhibit algae growth. No matter what kind of barrel you choose, follow instructions for safe placement and secure covering to prevent small children, pets and local wildlife from drowning.
- A system for distributing collected rainwater: Most storage tanks come equipped with a spigot, to which you can easily rig up a hose or garden soaker for watering.