Your garden runs on water. Flowers need it, ponds need it, and water features need it. But how do you keep your garden supplied and avoid racking up big water bills? Store rainwater.
Why store rainwater?
Control your own supply
Unpredictable weather, especially in the UK, can make it hard to always have water when you need it. Being able to store rainwater throughout the year means you can control your own supply. You won’t have to rely on the tap or be restricted by hosepipe bans in the summer when water companies may struggle to supply. Hotter summers are only going to become more likely as we move further into the climate emergency, so storing rainwater is a great way to keep your garden irrigated.
Save money on water bills
By watering your garden from the tap you can add a large amount of excess water to your bill. This need not be the case if you are able to store rainwater for your garden and get independence from the tap.
Why is rainwater better than tap?
Tap water is rainwater that has been treated to make it safe for drinking. The same processes that make water safe to drink however also remove many benefits that water has for our plants.
- Rainwater is 100% soft water. It’s free from salts and chemicals that are found in drinking water. The salts in tap water can build up in your soil and are tough on the roots of plants and affect their growth. Rainwater doesn’t have this effect and will create a better growing environment for your plants
- Rainwater is slightly acidic – most organically grown plants prefer slightly acidic soil with pH levels between 5.5 and 6.5 which is slightly on the acidic side. Luckily rainwater fits into this range, making it ideal for almost any plant you want to grow, almost as if nature intended it that way.
- Stored rainwater contains some organic matter – If collected from your rooftop or greenhouse guttering, rainwater will contain traces of organic material. This will enrich the water with nutrients and improve your soil similarly to how fertilizer does
- Rain contains nitrates— Nitrogen is one of the three key nutrients that plants need to thrive. It is necessary for the development of lush foliage, but it’s not usually absorbable by plants. Unless broken down into nitrates which they can only absorb from the soil, so watering with nitrate-rich water is key to lush growth
How to store rainwater
Collecting and storing rainwater is as simple as diverting water from your guttering to a tank or waterbutt. How you do this is up to you, but there are some common tactics:
Divert water from your downpipe – If your waterbutt isn’t directly under an outflow from your downpipe, then consider attaching a diverter to your downpipe, or fix guttering to your greenhouse or shed and divert it. However you choose to divert water it is definitely worth doing, and waterbutts come in all shapes, sizes and designs which means you are sure to find something to fit into your garden.