If you have a garden and want to reduce your water utility bill and save water resources then surely – installing garden rainwater harvesting tanks is a job you should do right now? Unless you’re living in the most arid of regions the average annual rainfall is sufficient to keep our gardens watered and fresh throughout the year.
However, not all of that rain water falls exactly when we want it; nor in the daily quantities we want, meaning that we often resort to the hose pipe or watering cans filled from our domestic water supply. Also, you only need to read the news to be aware that climate change to some degree is now inevitable – which will affect our rainfall patterns.
There is, of course, a simple solution to reducing our consumption of domestic water and thereby reducing our water bills, saving on water resources and having a store of water available for when we want it; harvesting rainwater into barrels. Harvesting rainwater is a job that any DIY/home enthusiast can achieve with very little work and an awful lot of reward.
The rain water run-off from any roof – house, garage, shed, greenhouse etc, can be used. All you need to do is tap into the down-pipe from the guttering and divert the rainwater into a collecting barrel. If you live in an area of particularly high rainfall at certain times of the year you can buy, or adapt, the water barrel to have an overflow at the top, with a pipe leading to a drain or soak-away.
Barrels for collecting rainwater come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t be concerned if you need a particularly tall and thin one or broad and short one – a simple search of DIY stores will locate exactly the rainwater harvesting barrel you want.
Basics to Look For
There is, of course, nothing to stop you simply putting an old wooden barrel under a cut off down-pipe to collect water in. However, compared to using one of the new plastic water barrels it wouldn’t be terribly efficient; so here’s what to look for in a rainwater harvesting barrel. Apart from the size of the barrels you want make sure it has a lid that fits well, as this will reduce loss of water from the barrel by evaporation.
Next, in the lid of the barrel or near the top of it, make sure there is a purposefully designed/made hole for the down-pipe to fit into. This will again reduce water loss by evaporation, as the hole will most likely have a universal rubber or plastic seal to it. The same applies for an overflow pipe, rather than having to cut a hole and fix your own pipe for an overflow, buy a rainwater storage barrel with one already provided.
Finally, is there a tap/faucet near the bottom of the barrel? Chances are you’ll use a lot of the water by pouring it into watering cans or buckets and you don’t want to be having to pull them up from inside the barrel – especially as the water level drops.
The following are some extra ideas for customizing the way you use your harvested rainwater. The first two are simply labor saving ideas to avoid having to carry watering cans or buckets of water. With an outdoor water pump, correctly installed electrically, you could submerge it in the water barrel and then be able to hose some of your garden using the harvested rainwater.
Alternatively, for barrels that have a tap/faucet; you can run irrigation lines into fruit orchards or vegetable crops, and simply turn on the flow of water for a few minutes each day. Finally, if space is tight or you want to maintain the aesthetic of your garden, it is now possible to buy underground rainwater storage tanks.