With more and more resources being used each day as the population continues to grow, we have been faced with some choices that are begging for an urgent answer. To continue to live in the world we do now, we are going to need to respect it by appropriately using what has been given to us. One of the ways we can do that is by being more careful with the precious commodity of water.
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MUST READ: The Best Rain Barrels
There are currently about 400 billion gallons of water that are used in the U.S. every day. During the summertime, nearly 40 percent of this water consumption is coming from watering our lawns and gardens, especially with the prolific trend of having luscious green grass lawns. Although beautiful, in some areas of the world, they simply aren’t natural and suck the commodity that water is away from drinking resources and farming operations.
So, what can we do about this water crisis? Can we make a difference? Think about it this way: to properly water your lawn and keep it looking green and gorgeous with one inch of water, it will take just over half a gallon of water for every square foot. This means that, for easy math, if your yard is 10 by 10, every day it is watered well, 62 gallons of water will be needed to keep it fresh. This is in one day! Yes, we can make a big difference!
However, this article isn’t talking about grass lawns over any other type of lawn, but instead, if your grass lawn is your baby, the most environmentally friendly way to maintain it that won’t break the bank. Is this even possible? Yes, and it’s called rainwater harvesting. This method allows you to have your green lawn without taking anything away from a water system that is sinking, pun might have been intended.
In this article, we are going to look at ten ways to construct your own method of rainwater harvest and then take a look at some tricks to make it blend in with your yard or stand out as a unique piece in it, no matter if you are renting, own your own home, live in a mansion on a hill or a cabin in the valley!
Rainwater harvesting can be an extremely efficient way to go about taking care of the water needs for your yard and garden if done in the right ways. From a roof of a thousand square foot, around 600 gallons of rainwater can be caught and used. Some people use it for watering their lawns and other people have actually rigged up filtration systems to be able to drink the water. Below, this is talked about in further detail, however, please be careful to conduct your own research before carrying this out to make sure your drinking water is safe for you and your family. Another thing that will need to be thoroughly researched are your local ordinances as some areas have become much stricter on rainwater harvesting recently due to lack of safety or misuse of the systems created. Without further ado, let’s dive into the list of ways you will be able to carry out your own rain harvesting dreams.
Starting with a basic rain barrel is a great place to begin as it gives you an idea of the method that you might be after. There are rain barrels that you can find in most outdoor and garden stores, but since these can tend towards being rather expensive and might not be the size or system that you want, going the DIY route might be most effective for you. First, figure out where the rain barrel is going to be placed under one of the gutters of your home. This will give you a good idea of how tall it needs to be. Afterwards, you are going to want to gather your materials and get ready for some DIY action. Making a rain barrel is not normally expensive and can fit to just about anyone’s needs.
For more information on one of the ways for making a basic rain barrel, follow this link to get some instructions!
If you are wanting to give a rain barrel a trial showing to see if it works well with your lifestyle, then you might want to consider going as cheap as possible for the first one or two. Using a garbage can is not only for a cheap and easy way to get started though. For many, it might fit well and be easily hidden with the rest of the trash cans used for your home. If this sounds like you, feel free to continue to use this option for as long as you want! Some garbage cans may be too flimsy to be able to last for long amounts of time holding so much poundage from the rain, however, this shouldn’t be the case very often. It will even be easy to attach a spigot at the bottom to allow it to drain out through the plastic. A garbage can also easily be set on a pallet to allow for easier drainage as well.
To learn more about how to make your own rain barrel from a garbage can, check out the link below! They also add some great options to make it even better, things you might not have thought about!
Another great way to begin on the road towards sustainable water usage is to use a galvanized stock tank. The pros of using something like a stock tank over using a plastic barrel mostly come down to size as well as appearance. The stock tanks come in a variety of sizes according to your needs. However, they can easily fit in next to your house as many of them come in an oblong shape and won’t stick out too far. They can hold a good bit more water than a regular barrel will, but if your garden or yard has more of a theme, the metal may blend in better as well as be decorated somewhat more easily to match that theme. For decorating, or disguising ideas, check out some of our tips at the bottom of the article. A stock tank won’t come with the lid, but the link below will give you an idea for how to create a lid out of cedar wood. Another idea is to simply cover it with mesh to keep bugs and other creatures out if you don’t want to be bothered with uncovering it for rainy days or crafting a hole in the covering.
Follow this link to get these ideas and more about how to use a stock tank for a rain barrel along with pictures of how it looks alongside someone’s home.
Now that you have some solid ideas for what to make your rain barrels out of and the basics of how this is carried out, we are going to take a look at some variations of the rain barrel to make them a better fit for your needs.
One such idea is to attach your rain barrel to a drip line and let the rain barrel feed directly into your garden. By placing a spigot at the bottom of your rain barrel and attaching a short hose to connect to the PVC pipe that will act as the drip line, water can pour through at varying speeds. The rain barrels can be near your home and just hosed to the drip line if enough of a slope is created, or by rotating the barrels, an entire garden can be watered without needing to make a dozen trips with buckets or a watering can, saving time and back problems!
To check out several ways to structure your own irrigation system with your rain barrels, click on the link below. Here, they give instructions as well as other considerations for how to make it work on your specific garden.
If watering your garden is your game and doing it with rainwater is your aim, then check out this idea for an environmentally pleasing solution. Using a solar panel system may be a bit more of an investment but allows the barrels to be placed anywhere and will use the solar energy to create the force you need to get the water through the hose and onto your garden. The amount of rainwater is obviously going to be determined by the amount of rain and the size of your barrels; however, the ease of transport can be hugely supplemented with this system! In the drip line system, gravity is needed to act as a force on the water and get it around your garden. Using solar energy and a long enough hose, this method allows the water to be dispersed from anywhere.
Slightly more complicated, however, the link provided below gives a great description of how to do this, supplies and useful pictures.
Some of us step back and take a look at our homes and realize that even with the best intentions and desires to make it work, the way our home is laid out or the size of it just doesn’t lend well to installing some rain barrels. Also, if you are renting and not able to make adjustments to your gutter system or do much around the outside of your house, then this option may well be for you. By making your own “gutter”, you can filter the water into a large rain barrel or set it out of the way and filter it into many small jugs that can be emptied into one larger container, or onto a yard or garden. This also works well for people that don’t have gutters and might have a line, or gouge, in your yard from the off pour of rain from your roof.
To use this option, use the link below for more instructions and pictures on exactly how this worked out for the creator.
Another option for those that either don’t have gutters to use or can’t make changes to their drainage system is to rig up a stand-alone rain collector. This can then be placed in any area of the yard without getting in the way, being an eyesore or if the location of your garden is much too far away from a roof to make rain collecting a viable option. It will probably take more time to fill up as it doesn’t have all of the rain that is hitting your whole roof but is still effective and can be made to whatever size you want, within reason. This is also a great idea for those that have every square foot of their home, garage and doghouse covered and are still wanting to go for that extra gallon.
Make this yourself by following the link provided below. It gives a description and one variety of the many to create your own rain harvester that sits away from your home.
This option is for those of us that are on a mission towards absolute sustainability and being the most environmentally friendly that we can be. One thing that we would struggle to go without in our homes nowadays is the convenience of indoor plumbing. Yet with two or more people in your house, this can add up to huge amounts of “wasted water”. There are some systems in play today that try and cut the amount of water use down to a minimum depending on the amount that is needed to be effective. However, another way is to use rainwater to supplement these systems and take away from the water being taken out of the system and put into your water bill.
This is another method that isn’t for the faint of heart but those ready with a wrench and some plumbing skills. Follow this link below to get an idea of how to start this project. This website is going to be very handy for all the steps in this DIY rain harvesting project!
Earlier in the article, one way to use harvested rainwater that was mentioned was to filter it for drinking water. In the many areas of the world that as of yet don’t suffer from much rain pollution, this can be a great option to get some wonderful tasting water. Please note: Be careful with this idea to ensure that you are not going to get you or your family sick by drinking this water. There are many ways to set this up, from harvesting in a rain barrel and then sending it through a store bought filtration system in your home, to making the filtration system an actual part of the rain barrel and when the water comes out, it is ready to go. If this second option is the way you decide to go, be sure to keep it clean and know that it will need to be redone often enough to ensure its effectiveness. Testing your water every once and a while to make sure it is still functioning properly is highly recommended.
To follow this route, check out the links below as a starting point for your research. They give one way to rig it up in your own rain barrel “old school” style and another way to do it that fits in our modern age a little more.
The last option that is going to be highlighted in this article, although there are an abundance of others if these have yet to satisfy your needs, is not just to harvest rainwater but capitalize on those hot, humid days that can dominate the summers in some areas of the world. If this describes where you live and you just can’t get enough of that good old air conditioner, then this might be the idea for you. Hooking up a “condensation” harvester instead of just relying on rainfall will allow you to get even more out of your air conditioning unit then just cool air.
Check out this link for how to set this system up and take your water collection to the next level.
Don’t let the appearance of a plastic or metal barrel next to your house put you off of the process of moving towards sustainability. With all of the cheap ways to use rainwater, the next step is to make it work for you. Below are five tricks to use to make the above ideas blend into your yard, or maybe even stand out as a gorgeous centerpiece in the work of art that is your yard!
Obtaining a wine or whiskey barrel might be a hard find for some people, however, if one of these vintage items is found, it is an easy way to add some character to the process of collecting rain. Coating them on the inside with plastic or a sealant might be a good idea, but the outside will already speak for itself! Even if you can’t find one, with a bit of skill, you may be able to make it look like you did by making your own.
Using wooden pallets is the new black of the DIY world. So many things can be done with them that can either be useful, cute or a great combination of them both. Painting them with a stain can make them look more rustic and the barrels can either be set behind them or on top of them. Another option with the pallets is to set them upright and fill them with plant containers. This way nobody will even realize the barrel is there, the plants are the main focus and a great add to the garden!
Easily said, easily done. Paint the rain barrels with your kids or as an art project for yourself. There are so many ways and designs to carry this out, it isn’t even funny! Look for one that fits your yard and family and make sure to find a paint that is good for the outdoors.
Another idea involving plants is to set them on top of the barrel. This can either be in the form of a container sitting on top or by making the lid of the barrel the plant container itself. This gives a nice aesthetic look to the barrel and solves the problem of a lid for some of us. By having them on top it quickly draws the eyes away from the barrel underneath. This idea also works well even if you have already employed one of the other tricks, brining them together for a nice ensemble.
The last trick functions as a great recycling idea as well. Many of us that like the projects we can take on and call our own will have a small, or quite large, stockpile of wood pieces that have been extras from other projects or discards. Use these to go around the outside of your barrel, staining or painting them to give it a fun colorful or rustic look, or just to blend in with your fence.
There you have it, ten ways to make rain harvesting your own and five tricks to bring it into your yard with grace. The couple of resources listed below are articles that give a more in-depth idea for what it is to harvest rain as well as the impact that you can have on your area by doing it yourself. Good luck rain harvesters! Here’s to a plentiful rainfall!