With the ongoing drought, the Extension Office has received many calls, questions and suggestions regarding landscape water conservation. Some have been good, others perhaps a bit extreme.
But one conservation practice in particular can greatly increase the chances of your ornamental plants surviving — rain barrels.
With the drought restrictions now facing all of North Georgia and the likelihood of such in the future, more and more homeowners are looking at harvesting or collecting rainwater to save money and their landscapes.
As the drought calls attention to an increasing water crisis, people are seeking ways to minimize the impact on their municipal water supplies. Rain barrels can be part of the solution. Just look outside your window the next time it rains and imagine all the water that’s running down your driveway being put to beneficial use in your home and garden!
More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, but only 2.5 percent of this supply is considered fresh water. The rest is found in the form of salt water in the oceans. Of the fresh water that exists, most is locked up in glaciers and ice caps. Water can also be found in the form of clouds and humidity in the soil. That leaves us less than 1 percent found in the form of lakes, rivers and streams.
Besides helping the environment, an obvious reason for harvesting rainwater is to save money. Depending on the size of your house and the amount of rainfall in your area, you can collect a substantial amount of rainwater with a simple system. This extra water can have a significant effect on your water bill. The use of rainwater combined with the domestic use of gray water can further increase your savings.
Rainwater stored in rain barrels has many uses. For most of us, the primary use is landscape irrigation. You do not need any type of filtration system for landscape uses. You can use it directly from your rain barrel on your garden.
If you’re harvesting rainwater with rain barrels to use for watering your landscaping, the rainwater can help to improve the health of your gardens, lawns and trees.
Rain is a naturally soft water and devoid of many minerals. Plants simply respond well to rainwater. After all, it’s what plants in the wild thrive on!