Money may not grow on trees, but if you have a rain barrel, it sure does fall from the sky!

Collecting rainwater is a smart idea for many reasons. First, it cuts down on your water bill and helps you grow your edible garden, which therefore reduces your grocery bill. It's also a wise way to reduce your water footprint and increase your sustainable living efforts.

Fortunately, collecting rainwater is easier than many people think and provides plentiful supplies. According to Garden Gate magazine, "The rule of thumb is the average 25 foot by 40 foot home roof sheds about 600 gallons of water in an hour of moderate rainfall, around 1 inch. If you have two downspouts, they’ll each divert about 300 gallons of water toward the barrel under them. The more barrels you have, the more of this water you can collect."

rain barrel in gardenTo start, get a kit or purchase supplies separately. You'll need a barrel with a spigot, a gutter and downspout to lead the water to the barrel, and a filter to keep debris out. These parts are typically low cost, but if you're really on a budget, look for recycled rain barrels or inquire with your city about programs they may be sponsoring that lower costs.

It's an easy day's activity to set this system up beside your home so it's ready for the next storm cloud. Select a location where water runs high during storms but is also close to where you'll be watering. You don't want to lug your watering can across the yard if you don't have to.

After the next rain, check your barrels to see how much water you collect. You may want to add a second barrel connected by a hose to house any overflow. When ready to use, just put your watering can under the spigot and fill like you would with a hose.

Your garden will drink up this H20 direct from Mother Nature! It costs you nothing and is free of chemicals that cities often add to tap water. Best yet, rain collection systems are durable and can last for decades, so you can enjoy the benefits for many years to come.

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