Collecting rainwater is a great way of saving money and helping the environment.
Rainwater can be collected in a variety of ways and used throughout the garden, and for odd jobs around the house.
Rainwater harvesting, as it is sometimes known, has recently been acknowledged by industry as playing an important role in the prevention of flooding while reducing water waste.
By giving the garden hose a rest, you can help reduce water bills, help prevent water waste, and also reduce your carbon footprint by reducing the amount of water that has to be processed by machines.
1. Rain Barrels
It used to be that every farmer collected rainwater in a barrel, and used it either to help keep his animals watered, or for cleaning his farming tools. These days, rainwater barrels are very expensive, and are specially designed to maximise the amount of water available for use. Rainwater barrels catch water which falls directly, and often come with a drainage system at the bottom which allows you to draw the water out of the barrel.
As an alternative to using rainwater barrels, you can use old trashcans or pots dug into the ground. Combined with a submersible pump, a hose can be used to draw water up whenever it is needed. There are, of course, some dangers with using old trashcans, for example that rainwater may wash chemicals and other toxins into the water; that stagnant water may become tainted by bacteria, and that still water is also a great place for mosquitoes to lay eggs. Covering trash cans is the best way of avoiding this kind of problem.
2. Rainwater Tanks
A more sophisticated take upon the old rain barrel, the rainwater tank collects water from roof and guttering, and then stores it above ground or underground, before pumping water into the house or garden upon demand. These tanks can sometimes be very expensive to install, but they can also help to save money in the long-run by bringing down water costs.
Another version of the tank is to set up plastic cola bottles around the garden to collect rainwater which falls from tree branches or from the roof of the house. 2 liter bottles can be converted by simply cutting off the top to create an open pot, and then burying in soil until the bottle is supported when full.
3. A Rainwater Garden
The rain garden is a modern landscaping tool that allows the gardener to create natural ‘run-off’ spots; the garden receives rain which runs off of roofs or driveways. This is a very simple method of watering the garden, although there is no storage capacity in a rain garden. This is probably suited to someone with a keen interest in the environment, and who buys carbon offsets.
4. A Rain Chain
These nifty little devices are made from copper, and can guide the rainwater down either chains or into cups. Acting very much like a gutter, the rain chain forms a water feature, and are mainly there to assist in transferring water from the top of the house into the garden. You can place a watering can at the bottom of the rain chain to ensure the garden gets its dues.
JoJo Tanks offer South Africans a huge range of poly water tanks for rainwater harvesting and water storage. Generally an above ground plastic water tank is easiest to set up but plastic underground water storage tanks are also available and are hidden from view.
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