Catching rainwater is a great way to cut your annual water costs, reduce your dependence on the city water supply, and minimize you impact on the earth. There are many approaches to catching and utilizing rainwater, all of which are easy to implement.
1) Roof Water Catchment-
You can catch rainwater from the gutter of your roof. By redirecting the flow of water into large rain barrels, you can store mass quantities of water for future use. A sloped roof is essential to rainwater catchment, as opposed to flat roofs where the water will just pool up. A roof water catchment system is very easy to design. Though it is a bit of an initial investment, it will save you a lot of money in the future due to decreased water bills. To set up the system, you will need a large rain barrel and a downspout diverter. The downspout diverter can be attached to your existing gutter system. It will redirect the flow of water from the sewer system into the rain barrels. The water in the rain barrels can then be used to irrigate your garden all summer long.
2) Berms and Swales-
A berm is a raised bed of packed soil and a swale is a shallow depression in the earth. When the two are used simultaneously, they can work to slow the flow of water that hits the ground and capture it in the soil. This method is specifically used to help increase moisture retention in landscapes and gardens, rather than to trap water for other uses. The berms will slow the water down, creating less runoff and allowing more of the water to be utilized by plants. Meanwhile, the swale will provide an area to trap excess water, allowing more to be absorbed into the soil. The berm and swale method is designed in contour with the earth, to maximize the water absorption and retention of your landscape.
3) Ponds and Reservoirs-
Rainwater can be captured and stored through the use of ponds and reservoirs. Ponds provide a beautiful centerpiece to every landscape. They can greatly increase the biodiversity of the area, by creating a habitat for water dwelling insects, plants, and animals. A pond will enable you to create a riparian zone within any climate, thus providing you the ability to grow moisture-loving plants in areas where that may otherwise be difficult. With even a small pond, you can begin to capture thousands of gallons of water a year. Run a hose from the rain barrel beneath your gutter into the pond. Then every time it rains, the pond will fill up. Be sure to shut off the hose once the pond is full, so that it doesn’t overflow. Another option is to build a small river connecting to the pond and headed downslope toward your garden. This way, should the pond ever overflow, the excess water will be redirected to supply added irrigation to the crops. It is very important to seal your ponds using plastic liners or bentonite clay. Otherwise the water will drain out rapidly and go to waste.