How to collect rainwater for your plants

blue rain barrel against house

Brought to you by the Sustainability Office.

This hot, dry summer has gotten many of us thinking about water use at home and around the garden. One way we can reduce our reliance on municipal water systems and save money on our water bills is to collect rainwater for watering plants and gardens.

At Mohawk, 75% of the watering in our community garden uses rainwater, instead of fresh drinking water! The Joyce Centre building also uses rainwater harvesting, collecting up to 228,000 litres of rainwater to use in wastewater plumbing and landscaping.

Whether your own or rent, rainwater harvesting is something you can do at home as well. And, it doesn’t have to be complicated!

3 ways to collect rainwater at home:

Using gutter systems on a house

This is the most common way to collect rainwater. Setting up rain barrels at the base of your downspouts will collect a lot of water whenever it rains. These types of barrels can collect enough water to keep your garden happy for weeks, which in a drought can be very handy.

Check out this link for a full list of materials and how to set up your rain barrels.

Using a balcony

Using a balcony to collect rainwater can be very effective. While smaller than a downspout system, you can still collect enough to water the plants on your balcony, or even your indoor plants as well. Here are two methods that can work for a balcony:

  1. Simple: The simplest way people collect rainwater on balconies is to leave a few jugs or pails out during the rain to collect to use. This will collect a small amount, but it will increase with the number of jugs you put out.
  2. More Involved: Here is a renter-friendly way you can collect rainwater by making a water harvester that is small enough to go on a shelf on your balcony.

Using windows

By collecting rainwater at your window, you can still collect enough to water your indoor plants. This can be as simple as placing a few cups to collect rainwater outside your window. They will fill up while it’s raining, and then you can bring them indoors to water your plants with.