Keeping lawns green and cultivating healthy gardens requires lots of water.

Getting free water from nature!

The EPA estimates that about 40% of residential water use in the United States is for lawn and garden watering. Not only is this practice unsustainable, it is also expensive. Of course, one could just let their lawns and gardens soak up the rainwater and try to survive on that, but it never seems to be enough. But did you know that there is an easy and cost effective way to collect rainwater for use in your own backyard? Rain barrels are large barrels placed underneath the gutter washout in order to collect as much rain as possible. They can range from 50 to 80 gallon capacities, and as little as half an inch of rain can fill up a 50 gallon barrel. While they do come with an up-front cost, they pay themselves off quickly as you never have to pay again, whereas using groundwater costs money every month. By using rain barrels, homeowners can save 1,300 gallons of water during the growing season.

Using rainwater to keep lawns and gardens hydrated is better for the plants and the soil.

Rainwater is highly oxygenated, free of the salts, inorganic ions, and fluoride compounds contained in tap water that accumulate in the soil over time and potentially harm plant roots. Use of rainwater in your garden dilutes this impact, making plants more drought-tolerant, healthy, and strong. Rain barrels also prevent harmful runoff that occurs when it rains. Rainwater runoff picks up soil, fertilizer, oil, pesticides and other contaminants and pushes them into other areas of the landscape. These pollutants can increase algae growth in lakes, alter the habitat for fish, and even make lakes and oceans dangerous for recreational activities. Using a rain barrel to collect rainwater reduces the effects of runoff.

We have two rain barrels here at the Confluence that we use to water our vegetable gardens and flower pots. Come to our program Wednesday, July 19th to create your own and learn all about them! The program is $30 and is make-and-take, so you will go home with your own rain barrel and can start saving money and the planet right in your own backyard!