DIY water catchment systems: collecting rainwater

November 3, 2015

A rainwater catchment system is an easy project that will augment your garden for a long time to come. Here's how you can create an effective water system for your garden than even using a rain barrel — but keep in mind that you can use this water for other purposes as well!

DIY water catchment systems: collecting rainwater

To get started

  • You need something to catch the water as it slides down your roof or heads towards the pavement. You want to intercept it on its way to the rain gutter.
  • Think of a funnel type system, with a pipe going into a basin or directly into the soil.
  • Based on the size of your property, you may want to catch more or less of the water for your available garden space and water needs.

What you need

  • Locate or purchase a mesh filter and lay it across the top of one or more square trash cans. This will keep our leaves and debris.
  • From here, you will need a bulkhead fitting to attach to your trash can and a hose manifold, which you'll use to attach the hose. For the hose attachments you may wish to use an additional small screen to filter smaller particles.
  • You can use any kind of hose, and several holes can be drilled along it so the water is distributed evenly along the soil.
  • If you want to catch some of the water for use other than in the garden, attach two hoses with two manifolds.

Small scale systems

  • For an apartment with a small garden plot, one square trash can positioned under the spout that drains water from your roof is likely sufficient.
  • Keeping it discrete and aesthetically pleasing can save you a lot of headaches later when neighbours notice it.
  • If it looks nice and doesn't bother anyone, they could be inspired to build one themselves.

Expanding the system

  • For a rented or owned back yard, where you have more gardening space available, you can simply add more trash cans to the mix.
  • Soil can hold a surprising amount of water — but if your soil has a high clay content, it can become slick and muddy when it rains.
  • To avoid this, try covering it in wood, leaves and compost in the fall that will hold a high capacity of water and decay into loamy soil over time.

Elaborate systems for larger properties

  • With a larger property lot, say a farm or ranch, you can set up a more elaborate system with trash cans or larger catchment systems around the property and a funnel system other than your roof.
  • Then, the hose can reach local areas near the catchment systems and be distributed around the property without much further effort on your part.

Designing your own

  • Remember that you can be creative based on what resources you have available, the preferences of your landlord (if applicable), and the way your property is set up.
  • Once you understand how the basic system works, you can design one best suited for your needs.
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