You know the old saying. April showers bring May flowers. In some areas, rain is a welcome - and rare - guest right now, as drought conditions across much of the country beget thirsty ground and make it difficult to keep greenery from turning into brownery. But did you know that even if you are only getting a little bit of rain, there are ways to put it to good use in and around your home? And you don't even have to be super eco to do it.
"There's money falling from the skies every time it rains," said Garden Gate Magazine. "Here's how you can harvest your share."
It's all about collecting and storing rainwater.
"Creating a rainwater collecting and storage system is simple," they said. "And every time you use it to replace expensive, chemically treated city water in your garden, you're saving money. Best of all, this collection system is right over your head."
The basic rule of thumb for collecting rainwater is this: "Anywhere falling rain doesn't soak in to the ground, the runoff can be collected," said Garden Gate. That means your roof is the water collection area.
Collected water needs a way to be transported from the roof - that's what your downspouts are for. And water flowing through them needs to be captured. Enter the rain barrel.
"According to John C. Davis, writing in E – The Environmental Magazine, just about any homeowner can collect rainwater, given that the roof and gutters do most of the work," said Gaiam Life. "And since an inch of rain falling on a 2,000 - square-foot roof produces some 1,200 gallons of runoff, one can harvest enough to supply all the water needs of a family of four for about two weeks."
Added Garden Gate: "If you have gutters and downspouts on your house or garage, you have a fantastic system for harvesting soft, clear rainwater for the garden. "The only missing piece is a collection reservoir, otherwise known as a rain barrel."
With the system in place, it's easy use and store water to "quench your thirsty lawn, shrubs, bushes, and flower beds," said Gaiam Life. Experts say greenery can often thrive with rainwater instead of tap water, "which is usually treated with softeners that actually inhibit plant growth."
You can also use it for uses you may not have expected. "If you're motivated to save a little water and re-distribute it on your lawns or plants - or even use it for laundry, dishes or other interior needs - collecting rainwater from your gutters' downspouts is a no-brainer," said Gaiam Life. The lack of minerals in rainwater can be a more efficient choice for hair and dish washing, and "using rainwater for plumbing uses can also extend the life of pipes and water heaters, since the salts added to tap water facilitate corrosion. However, "homeowners should set up a water purification system if they do plan to use rainwater for interior needs."