How To Collect Rainwater For Plants

Adding more greenery to your home and yard is definitely a great idea. However, taking care of a veggie garden or even just a small row of plants can take quite a bit of effort and time. Even just keeping indoor pot plants can be challenging sometimes, especially with the ever-worsening droughts all around the country.

Utilizing rainwater to its full potential is a good way to deal with these problems and to make your garden look as good as possible. Below, we’ve listed several tips on how to collect rainwater for plants that you might find useful. Keep in mind that not all U.S. states or other countries allow the collecting of rainwater for private use, however, so it’s a good idea to contact your local government before you do anything.

Set up rain barrels

rain-barrel to collect water for plants

Rain barrels are the go-to for many people because of how easy and effective they are. Here’s all you need to do:

  • Remove the lowest part of the downspout so there’s room for a barrel under it.
  • Cut a hole in the barrel’s lid for the downspout’s water to go through.
  • Place a filter out of landscaping fabric over the hole to protect the water in the barrel from debris, mosquitoes, and other insects.
  • Drill a hole for a spigot near the bottom of the barrel with a hand drill. Position the hole as low as possible so long as you’re still able to fit a bucket or a watering can under it. If you’re only going to use a hose, the hole can be even lower. A good idea is to put the barrel on top of something so the hole can be as low as possible and you can still fit a bucket under it.
  • Attach the spigot in the hole. Use a waterproof sealant to make sure there won’t be any leakage.
  • If you want to be able to collect more water from a single downspout, connect a second barrel to the first one the principle of communicating vessels.

Dig channels to your rainwater garden

Another simple solution is to just dig around your yard so that all the rainwater that falls on it and from your home’s downspouts naturally drains toward your rainwater garden. If your property has a slight natural elevation you can use that to your advantage but even if there isn’t, you can make an artificial elevation with some digging. A couple of dikes here, a few earth mounds there, and your rainwater garden will be getting plenty of water in a perfectly natural way.

Collect rainwater with a tarp “trap”

This technique is best for larger properties and isn’t very appealing to the eye but is effective nonetheless. To make a “tarp trap” you’ll need an elevated hill somewhere on your property. It doesn’t need to be too high, as long as it’s higher than the rest of your property. The larger its square footage, the better, however. The top of the hill should be relatively flat and it would be best if there’s just a very slight elevation with the lower end of the flat top pointing to the direction of where you want the rainwater to go. You can do some shovel work to “customize” the hill for your needs.

First, dig a shallow hole inside the flat top on top of the hill – several inches will be enough, just make sure there are sturdy dirt “walls” on all sides of the hole.

Next, place a large, clean tarp on top of the hole. Secure the tarp in place with stones or bricks on the outside of the dirt wall. Essentially, you’ve made a shallow tarp pool on top of a hill.

After that, make a small hole in the wall at the lower end of the tarp pool and put a drainpipe in it. This way, the water collected from your tarp pool or “tarp trap” will be drained through the pipe.

Lastly, simply direct the drainpipe to wherever you need the rainwater – directly to your rain garden, into a large collection tank, or into another deeper hole with a tarp over it to use as a budget-friendly collection tank.

An above-ground kids’ pool

If all those seem like too much labor and you only need a few buckets per rainfall for your flower pots, setting up an inflatable kids’ pool in your yard before a rain can also do the trick.

Just make sure you use the water soon after the rain is over and you don’t let it sit there for too long or you might get a mosquito infestation on your hands pretty soon.

A commercial rainwater collection and filtration system

If you do need large quantities of rainwater and you don’t have the time or the conditions to realize any of the DIY solutions above, you can also call a professional for help.

There are lots of good rainwater collection and filtration systems on the market, all with different volumes, filtration mechanisms, and intended purposes. They’ll usually cost more than a DIY solution but they are a good and surefire solution nevertheless.

Want to learn more about rainwater harvesting systems? Read our comprehensive guide here.

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