How to Use Rainwater
You recycle aluminum cans, newspaper, and perhaps even your old electronics. But did you know that you can also recycle rainwater?
A new concept to some, rainwater reuse has actually been popular for thousands of years! Both now and in ancient times, there have been two basic categories of rainwater use: cleaning and irrigation. Let’s take a closer look at how to do both.
An Environmentally Friendly Way to Clean!
One of the most obvious—and popular—ways to recycle rainwater is for washing your car. Not only is rainwater abundant for large-scale cleaning tasks like this, but its natural softness can make the task easier than it would be with tap water! In fact, recycled rainwater is perfect for cleaning not just your car but the exterior of your house, as well as driveways and walkways. Rainwater is also ideal for washing your dog—perform this task on a sunny day, and you’ll find that the naturally warmed rainwater makes for a more pleasant dog bath than the cold water from the tap. Rainwater can also be used to rinse mud off your hands, boots, and muddy garden tools before entering the house.
Treat Your Garden to Rainwater
The most common use of harvested rainwater is for watering lawns and gardens. It is warmer than water from the hose, oxygenated and unchlorinated. Not only can you collect rain in a watertight barrel for later use, but you can make the most of the rain that falls on your home through redirecting your downspouts so that they flow into the lawn and garden area.
To choose a site for your rain barrel, find the downspout that is closest to the plants with the heaviest watering needs—these will be best suited to absorb any overflow from the barrel. Make sure that overflow will spill onto your own property, and not your neighbour’s. If possible, bring the spout away from the house and place the barrel directly on dirt or another permeable surface to prevent overflow from seeping into your foundation.
If you plan to attach a hose directly to your barrel for watering the lawn and garden, you may wish to place the barrel on top of concrete blocks. This will let you put the spigot on the very bottom of the barrel so you can take full advantage of the force of gravity to empty out the water. It also gives you room to place a watering can under your spigot, if you prefer that method to using a hose.
One of the best ways to use your recycled rainwater for irrigation is to build a rain garden. In essence, a rain garden is a plot that you build around your drain spouts so they will catch the runoff and use it to grow. The advantages of this are many: it makes good use of your existing drain spouts without requiring any hardware modifications from you; it increases the attractiveness of your property, and a rain garden absorbs far more water than a lawn, decreasing potential runoff and flooding. If you choose to build a rain garden around your downspouts, make sure the water is directed away from your home and foundation. Rain gardens work best when you put them in a low spot (or dig a depression for them) and fill them with plants that are native to your area.
Whether it’s a rain garden, a beautiful lawn, a clean pup, or all three that benefit from your rain collection, you’re sure to enjoy the process and appreciate the savings. Welcome to rainwater recycling!