You may be letting a free resource for your Phoenix-area trees and plants go down the drain – rainwater. Harvesting the rainwater that falls on your property can reduce your water bill, keep your landscape healthy, flush out salts, and more!
Rainwater harvesting is a way to collect and redistribute rainwater on your property. There are ways to utilize rainwater harvesting on both residential and commercial properties.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the basics of rainwater harvesting in Phoenix, how you can set up your own rainwater harvesting system, the benefits rainwater harvesting can provide to your property, and some issues to be aware of.
The Benefits (and one Caution) of Harvesting Rainwater
There are many positives to harvesting rainwater, especially in Maricopa County, where water can be scarce.
Rainwater Harvesting Provides Water in the Desert
Water is a valuable resource in the desert, including in the Anthem and Phoenix areas. Unlike other parts of the country, we do not see rain (or other forms of precipitation) every month of the year.
While our native plants can often survive just on rainfall, they may need supplemental watering, especially for newly-planted trees and shrubs.
Non-native plants and trees often require more regular watering, and most will not survive on rainfall alone; they will require to be watered more frequently.
Rainwater harvesting provides a surplus supply of water for use in your garden when it is most needed.
Rainwater Flushes out Salts
Water from the tap often contains minerals and salts that are not naturally occurring in rainwater. This means salt can quickly build up in our soil when watering using an irrigation system, garden hose, or a watering can filled from your tap.
As salt builds up, it can cause damage to your trees and plants. Too much salt can lead to browning leaves, branch dieback, and other issues.
Rainwater doesn’t contain salt, so as it rains, the raindrops help to flush out the salt from the ground.
Watering with rainwater will prevent salt buildup in your soil and provide the nutrients necessary for your plants and trees to thrive.
Rainwater Harvesting Saves Water (and Money!)
Using water from the tap at your home or business also increases your water bill. This can become more noticeable during periods of drought when trees and plants require more water to survive. As a result, your water bill rises, and you have to pay more money.
Rainwater harvesting costs can vary, depending on how you gather and store the water. Still, it is less expensive than paying the water company.
With Arizona’s water sources diminishing, it’s not too early to start implementing water harvesting techniques now, before water usage is limited.
Some Rainwater Harvesting Methods Can Be a Potential Mosquito Breeding Ground
One thing to remember if you set up a rainwater harvesting system is that any sitting water can become a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes. With cases of West Nile virus increasing in Maricopa County, it is best to eliminate any standing water on your property.
Thankfully, there are options to keep mosquitoes (and animals, leaves, and other debris) out of your water harvesting containers.
How to Set Up Your Own Rainwater Harvesting System
There are several methods for gathering and storing rainwater.
Determine How to Gather and Store the Rainwater
The most basic form of rainwater harvesting is to set containers outside when it rains and let them fill up. Just be sure to cover the containers (or move the water to a covered container) once they are full to prevent breeding mosquitoes.
Most rainwater harvesting systems consist of a gutter with a downspout and a barrel or tank to store the collected water. You can purchase or create a system that will work best for your property or hire a company to design and install a rainwater harvesting system for you.
Often, screens or covers on tanks or rain barrels keep out animals, insects, and large debris.
Calculate Your Rainwater Storage Needs
Calculate how much storage you’ll need and how much rain you can gather from your roof. To do this, use Google Maps to view your roof and use this measurement guide to determine your roof’s area. Then multiply the square footage of your roof by 0.62 to determine how many gallons of water to expect per inch of rainfall.
This calculation can help you determine how large your containers can be and how many to install. Our storms rarely produce more than an inch or two of rain at a time.
Note that water gathered from rainwater harvesting is great for your trees and plants but is not meant to be a substitute for drinking water.
Rainwater Harvesting Isn’t the Only Way to Save
There are other ways you can reuse and save water on your property. Click on any of the links below for more information on how to make every drop of water count.
Another form of rainwater harvesting is to build a basin on your property.
For more information on rainwater harvesting, check out this PDF of Harvesting Rainwater for Landscape Use.
If your trees and plants are receiving enough water but still seem to be suffering, contact Titan Tree Care. Your trees may benefit from soil amendments to help with water retention and drainage.
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Titan Tree Care is a full-service tree care company located in Anthem, AZ and serving all of North Phoenix. We offer a wide range of services to meet your tree care needs, including tree and palm trimming, tree pruning, tree removal, stump grinding, and more. We also offer insect or disease treatments and fertilization services. We are dedicated to providing high-quality, safe, and effective tree care services to our customers and work hard to ensure that your trees are healthy and look their best.