4 Ways to Harvest Rainwater - Backyard Boss
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4 Ways to Harvest Rainwater

Rain drops keep falling, and when they do, are you collecting and using them?

Rain is a gardener’s best friend throughout the summer seasons. Especially when it is perfectly paired with sunny days! This natural watering system is great for your seedlings, plants, trees, grass, and the wildlife around you. So, when the rain starts falling, take the opportunity to harvest the extra rainwater and use it to your advantage!

There are a number of ways to harvest rainwater and use it later in your yard and garden. Take a look at these four tips for harvesting rainwater that benefits you and the living greenery around you.

1 – Set Up a Rain Barrel

rain falling into a black rain barrel
Image credits: Frame Harirak via Unsplash

Rain barrels are the easiest and most instantaneous way to harvest and utilize rainwater. Barrels of all sizes and styles are available to place below your eavestrough and downspouts, so all the water running off of your house is gathered in a single, convenient location. Most rain barrels have hose attachments or spigots/faucets on them, which makes retrieving rainwater easy. Simply fill up your watering can directly from the barrel or attach a hose and let the rainwater empty into your lawn and garden.

A rain barrel is a fun and easy DIY project, but you can also purchase a rain barrel at any garden or hardware store. There are a few different types available, including:

  • Plastic rain barrels (available in various colors, textures, and sizes)
  • Wooden rain barrels
  • Stone/clay rain barrels
  • Planter-pot rain barrels (plants are grown on top while draining excess into the barrel below)


Keep in mind, rain barrels require regular upkeep and cleaning. If the water remains unused for too long, it builds up bacteria that may harm your plants. It is good practice to clean out your rain barrel at the beginning of every season. Once it is clean, use the gathered water regularly and routinely push off any debris caught on top or within the filter system.

2 – Create a Rain Garden

A rain garden, also called a bioretention cell, is an effective solution to harvest rainwater that will boost plant growth and encourage the environment’s natural water systems. A rain garden is made by allocating a garden to a specific part of your yard. This ideal location is one that receives the most water runoff from your home or an area that struggles with proper drainage. Perfect spots for a rain garden include areas near rain gutters, downhill or sunken parts of your yard, or grassy areas near the driveway.

To make a rain garden, identify the spot in your yard that receives the most runoff of rainwater — ensure it is at least 10 feet away from your home. Remove the top layer of grass to whatever shape and size you would like your future rain garden to be. Then it is time to dig! Remember to always call your utility company to identify existing lines before digging.

The depth of your rain garden depends upon the absorbency of the soil. Test your soil’s absorbency by digging a hole and pouring water inside to see how fast it drains. The final step is to fill your new garden with plants that thrive with an abundance of water in the soil. Voila! You now have a rain garden that effectively captures and harvests rainwater for your beautiful new plants!

3 – Install a Rainwater Collection System

Unlike most large rain barrels placed below gutters and runoff locations outside of your house, a rainwater collection system is a more elaborate option. Rainwater collection systems are beneficial for those who live in areas with high amounts of precipitation throughout the year. Many of these systems are professionally installed and provide cleaned water for showering, plumbing, and in some cases, even drinking! These larger systems use a series of roof runoff structures, pipes, large cistern(s), and filtration systems. Install them alongside your home so they can be used whenever the need for water arises.

NOTE: Always check with local government laws regarding the collection of rainwater before installing a system. Some areas have certain water collection restrictions, while others offer tax exemption opportunities.

4 – Keep it Simple with Buckets

Leaves floating in bucket of rainwater that is sitting beneath an eavestrough
Image credits: Lena Lindell via Pixabay

If you have limited yard space or only have a small balcony, rain harvesting is still available to you. You just need buckets! The buckets you select do not have to be large rain barrels; they can be any buckets or tubs in your home that you’re not currently using. Place these in the yard, near drain spouts, or on your balcony during rainy days for a simple and effective rainwater harvesting solution. Save up the rainwater and use it later to water your mini gardens and plants. Bonus tip: if your bucket has a lid, use it to keep the rainwater covered from bugs, wildlife, or nosy pets!

Why Bother Harvesting Rainwater?

rain drops on a window that looks out on to a blurry backyard
Image credits: Andrey_and_Lesya via Pixabay

You may be wondering, why should you bother harvesting rainwater anyway? There are numerous benefits to harvesting the rain that aid your wallet, the environment, and your plants!

Rainwater is free and is perfect for watering your lawn, garden, plants, or even washing your house or car. Because it is free, rain saves you money on your water bills! Harvesting rainwater is also a great opportunity to help the earth. Collecting rainwater is a sustainable solution that reduces the negative effects of storm water runoff (reducing the accumulation of chemicals and pollutants) and instead, sends it back into the ground.


Harvesting rainwater is a sustainable, cost-effective, and advantageous method to keep your yard and the environment happy. Collecting rainwater is as easy as using a rain barrel near your gutters or in areas of major runoff. You can also choose to create a rain garden, install a more elaborate collection system, or even put some buckets out in the rain!

No matter what method you choose, any rainwater you collect on wet days will provide your gardens with a healthy drink when the rain stops. Ready to get started? Set up your rain harvesting solutions and get excited about free water!