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Texas A&M Agri-Life—
Any Texan can collect rainwater and save it to use for all non-potable household water needs, increasing water-use efficiency around the home.
“Plus, rainwater is superb for plants,” said Daniel Cunningham, Texas A&M AgriLife Research horticulturist, Dallas. “It’s salt-free, chlorine-free, calcium-free and lime-free, and its pH level is slightly below 7 — making it ideal for the landscape.”
Other uses for harvested rainwater include filling birdbaths, watering concrete foundations, watering houseplants, washing cars, supplementing ponds and pools, and filling aquariums and terrariums.
Cunningham offered a few professional tips, as well as a free digital guide, to help anyone begin saving “from” a rainy day with a homemade rainwater harvesting system.
A rain barrel is easy to construct from a plastic food-grade drum, Cunningham said. “Your local food or drink distributor might sell you a barrel,” he said. “Sometimes you can find them in online swap meets through social media and other selling platforms, but it’s important make sure they only previously stored food. Avoid barrels that once held petroleum products or soaps.
“Most homes in Texas can fill several 55-gallon rain barrels in a single rain, As a rule of thumb, a full 55-gallon rain barrel can irrigate a 10-by-10-foot area to a depth of about 5-8 inches. Those estimates pertain to heavy clay soils prevalent across much of Texas. But so many factors determine just how far your rainwater can go.
- Avoid containers that once held petroleum or soap.
- Modify an existing downspout to divert water into your rain barrel.
- For a roof with no gutters, position your barrel under the valley of the roof, where two sloped planes meet
- Use a decorative “rain chain” to get water into your barrel.
- Try harvested rainwater for any non-potable application.
- Consider a moisture meter to test watering efficiency in the landscape.
- Read the Texas A&M AgriLife Water University rainwater harvesting guide.