Many people just give up when they find out how few gallons of water they are permitted to use, but some of us have just found ways to cope with less water. There are many ways to optimize your garden to conserve water while still keeping it lush.
Some of the ways include drip irrigation (the use of a pipe or hose with small holes to allow water to gradually seep into the root zones of plants), the placement of plants in groups with equal watering needs (to prevent wasting water on plants that don’t need as much), and using compost or mulch to minimize evaporation and runoff of the water.
Occasionally a period of drought will be forecasted far in advanced, or those already experiencing a drought will be given a rare reprieve, with heavy rains. To take advantage of this, you should set up one or more rain barrels. Many people think this would be a time consuming, silly thing to do. But it can save you many gallons of water, and hardly requires any work.
Finding the barrels will probably be the hardest part. You can use your own garbage cans, or head to your home improvement store to get 55 gallon plastic drums. These can be expensive and difficult to transport, so keep that in mind before you go to the store. You will want to cover the top of the barrel with a screen of some sort to filter out any unwanted leaves or debris that might fall off the roof of your house and to prevent mosquitos breeding in any standing water.
Once you have your barrels ready, you’re faced with the decision of where to place them. Usually during rainfall, there is one corner or segment of the house that most of the rain tends to pour off of. If you are taking the simple approach to barrel placement, just place the barrel under all the downspouts where you see large amounts of water drainage. However, while this might be the easiest way to place them, you won’t see very high volumes of rain in the barrels.
If you’re open to taking a more complicated approach, you should consider tweaking your roof gutter system a bit. If you remove each individual segment and place it at a very slight slant so that all the water is diverted to the nearest corner of the house, you can place a rain barrel at each corner. So essentially your entire house acts as a catcher for the rain, instead of just a portion of the roof. This will help to maximize the amount of water your rain barrel will catch.
After a heavy rainfall, each individual barrel probably won’t see very much rain. If it looks like it won’t be raining more any time soon, it’s a good idea to empty each barrel into one main central barrel. Seal it and save it out of the way, for whenever you may need it. Then the next time it starts to rain, you’ll be able to quickly put all your catching barrels into place without having to lug around all the water you’ve accumulated so far.
The use of water barrels might sound like an antiquated idea. However, when you’re in the midst of a drought and you’re able to spare that extra couple of gallons for your garden in addition the city allotment, you’ll be grateful for every bit of time and money you spent on collecting all that rain. All it takes is a few trips out in the backyard every time it starts to sprinkle, and you’ll be a very happy gardener when water isn’t so abundant.
If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, you can always buy and install the many rain barrel or rainwater harvesting systems designed for residential use. It’s a simple, easy way to be good to a planet where the looming water crisis is sure to overshadow even the climate change crisis.