Saving Rain Water for Gardening

When dealing with a garden, one thing is a must.  Water.  If your garden is small, you might find its not that expensive to use your water hose to keep your plants watered.  And if you have a well, spring, or clean body of water you might get away without spending a dime. For those of us without a natural source of water, the water meter can be a daunting worry.  Enter rain water!

Unless you live in an area that specifically prohibits the collection of rain water,  the collection of rain for drier periods can be the most economical option to you.  Barring a severe drought, you will always have water to for your garden available to at least cut down the amount you need from your municipal water system.

What you’ll need

A 55gallon plastic barrel (or more – the more you have the more water you can save!)

Some pvc fittings.


Gutters – if you don’t already have them on your house, select an eave with an intersecting gable that directs water down a valley.  You don’t have to completely cover your house with gutters, but at least on section of roof.

Construction of The System

I’ll assume you already have gutters on your roof to aid us in the collection of our rain water.  The first thing you need to do is a chore you probably already hate – clean out your gutters!

I also recommend finding some kind of filter you can place in/on your gutters that will aid in preventing debris from getting in them in the first place.  One good type of filter, though it will need to be replaced over time is

The product above keeps the leaves out of your gutters while letting water freely flow through the filter.  You’ll always have to clean gutters while you have them, but this will drastically reduce the amount of trash you have to clean out as well!

Now find the downspout you will collect your water from and cut the spout so that it is just below the top of the rain barrel.  It helps later if you have your rain barrels elevated off of the ground as well; A raised platform built out of old pallets or on top of cinder blocks works perfectly.

Water Barrels Rain Water
Either use PVC to turn the rectangular downspout into a tube, or cut the top of your rain barrel so that the downspout will tightly fit into the barrel.  If you are using multiple barrels, use PVC to connect them at both the bottom and the top of the barrels.  Because water self levels, the level in one barrel will match the other barrel.

Rain Water Barrels With Spouts

Add spouts on your barrels at the bottom that you can attach your water hose to and you’ll have a backup supply of free water for your garden.   I would also recommend a larger exit port with a PVC cap that is screwed on for cleaning out any debris that does enter the rain barrels as well as draining the barrels easily before winter.

Lastly, create an overflow exit, and direct the overflow away from your house. When the barrels are filled, the extra water will flow out into your yard like before.

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