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Rainwater Harvesting and Re-Use

Looking out your window on a stormy day, you may have wondered if it was possible to harvest that rain and save it for reuse during times of less frequent showers or even droughts.  The good news is that it is not only possible it is a very good idea.

Technical Terms

Although you may hear the terms used interchangeably, rainwater is technically different from stormwater.  Rainwater is what comes straight from the sky and stormwater is what comes to the ground off your roof or through the guttering.


Water is one of our natural resources and we should take the necessary steps to conserve and protect it like any other limited commodity.  There are a lot of reasons to use captured rainwater and here are some ideas:

  • It is free.  You won’t need to pay your local utility company for watering your plants.
  • Rainwater is not chlorinated like tap water.  That means it is better for your landscape and gardens.
  • If you have drainage problems on your property, it can help resolve that issue and give you extra water where you need it.
  • It is ecologically responsible.
  • Systems are pretty simple and can be incorporated into new builds or worked into your current structure.

The Process

If you want to be incredibly simple, it is as easy as putting out a barrel or other container.  Then you can dip in your sprinkler can and distribute the water to any of your flowers or vegetables.

There is another way that involves capturing the water that runs off the roof and through the guttering and downspouts.  This is a bit more complicated.  It will mean modifying your downspout so that the water will flow into a barrel positioned to hold the liquid.  For this you will need a treatment system to filter out any impurities.  This can include any of the residue from the shingles on your roof or, well, think about all those birds that fly overhead or perch on your eaves.  If there is no filtration system, the water can be used for grass, trees, or flowers but it is not recommended for use on vegetables and certainly not for human consumption.

It will also be important to have some type of cover on the container and a fine mesh grid, again to prevent dirt, debris, or other elements contaminating your water source and to prevent attracting insects like mosquitoes.

If you place the barrel on a raised surface, like on cinder blocks, you can have a spigot or tap at the bottom and let gravity do the work of filling your buckets, sprinkling cans, or even hooking up your hose.

If this is something that may sound good to you, check with your local full-service garden center. Hardware stores and big-box chains won’t be much help, but a nursery with landscaping capabilities is the place to go.  They can fill you in on all the details, answer your questions, and probably even install your system. Our team would also love to help.



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