How to Rein the Rain

There are some steps you can take to reap the most benefits from your rain barrel — and see the savings on your water bill.

There’s something about rain barrels that makes people feel good about water conservation. Perhaps it’s the idea of capturing what Mother Nature provides and saving it for non-rainy days.

Whatever the reason, rain barrels have been so popular we decided to include them in our WaterSaver Rewards Program.

There are two ways you can get a rain barrel: by earning points for a $30 coupon to use toward the purchase of one or earning enough points for the $70 coupon to combine with the $30 coupon to get a free rain barrel.

If you invest in one, there are some steps you can take to reap the most benefits from your rain barrel — and see the savings on your water bill.

First, have enough catchment area. Rain barrels only fill up when they get enough water. A little drizzle will hardly fill up a bucket, much less an entire rain barrel. Place the barrel under the downspout of a gutter to catch the rain from the roof of your house.

Second, you may need multiple rain barrels. The size of your yard will determine how much area you need to water. A rain barrel could be enough for someone with a garden home, but if your goal is to keep an acre of grass green you might need something as large as a small cistern to store the water you want.

Third, make sure your landscape is conducive to the rain barrel life. If you have a quarter-acre of thirsty St. Augustine grass, a couple of rain barrels will hardly make a dent in your watering needs. Rain barrels work best for supplemental watering of existing drought-tolerant plants that can survive dry weather.

The very best “rain barrel” is actually your soil. One acre of six-inch-deep clay loam soil will hold about 6,000 gallons of water after about an inch of rain!

Picture of Sarah Gorton
Sarah Gorton
Sarah Gorton is a Planner with the SAWS Conservation department. She is passionate about bats and native plants, with a particular fondness for horseherb! Sarah has completed certifications through Texas Master Naturalist and Native Plant Society. When she isn't working on her research on the use of native grasses for uptaking pollutants at UTSA, she can be found making stained glass or hanging out with her two Chihuahuas.
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