Did you know that a ½ inch of rain that falls on the roof of a 1,500-square-foot home can equal 500 gallons of water? By capturing this rainwater instead of letting it run into the street, you will help conserve our precious water resources and save money by irrigating the plants in your yard.
Rainwater can be harvested in different ways. One of the easiest to implement is called passive techniques, which directs water into the soil for immediate use. This can be done by constructing basins, berms, swales, or shallow depressions, which can be done before or after construction. Make sure to minimize standing water and keep any water storage away from the foundation of buildings.
Another way to harvest rainwater is through catchments such as rain barrels or tanks. These active techniques direct water to these catchments through gutters on the roof of your home. This rainwater can then be used to irrigate your plants at a later time.
To assess your potential for harvesting water, it is helpful to spend time outside observing what happens after a rain. Where is this water that is dripping down the roof going? If it is falling onto the driveway instead of a planting bed, it could easily be redirected. Drawing a map of your property will help you assess your rainwater harvesting potential. Be sure to indicate with arrows the direction water flows off your roof and mark the high and low points of your property. Make note of where water tends to accumulate. Show the direction of water from any slopes in the yard. If you have a large slope, you can use berms to slow water down enough to soak into the soil.