While we get plenty of rain in the Carolinas, there are times when it does not rain for a while, and you need to water your plants and gardens. At times like these, it is nice to have rainwater on hand instead of using the hose.

Tancey Cullum Belken with Clemson Extension says “the rain barrel is great because it will collect that water you can hold onto it and when it starts to dry it out or when you are ready to water your plants again you can pull from your barrel.”

Rainwater harvesting not only saves a little bit of money, but it also cuts down on storm water runoff, which can sweep pollutants into our local waterways.

“If you don’t have a rain barrel and your house produces a lot of runoff. That can run down into the streets it can collect fertilizer, pet waste; lead down into our waterways and pollute them.”

An average one thousand square foot roof generates 600 gallons of water runoff during a one inch rainfall. An average rain barrel can hold 50 gallons of water, which captures a good percent of that run off.

Rainwater harvested in rain barrels is not safe to drink, but it better for plants than what comes out of your hose, plus it does not add to your water bill.

“If you go to your local extension office, several of them this spring are going to be hosting rain barrel workshops, or rain barrel sales. So you can either learn how to make one or you can just buy one pre-made.”

Harvested rainwater can be used to water plants and gardens, wash vehicles or boats, or for indoor plants. A net over the top of a rain barrel is a good idea to keep mosquitos out, but a better way to prevent mosquitos is to use the water, and empty the barrel between rainstorms.