If you haven’t attended a rainwater harvesting workshop at your University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension county office, you should. The rains commence this time of year, and we can most certainly take advantage of the season. Rainwater harvesting is a great way to capture and use this free resource.
Many UF/IFAS Extension offices offer rainwater harvesting workshops. Participants learn how to set up their rain barrels safely and correctly, connect more than one barrel and install overflow accommodations. Instructions on safety considerations, maintenance and painting barrels are also presented. Some counties charge for these workshops, so check to determine if there is a fee.
Rain barrels and cisterns collect rainwater used mainly for landscape irrigation. These devices reduce stormwater runoff and erosion because they catch and contain the water. Rain barrels and cisterns decrease the amount of potable water used for landscape irrigation because the captured water is used to irrigate plants, wash cars and clean gardening tools.
If the water is only used for landscape irrigation, adding water-soluble fertilizer to the rain barrels allows the plants to be fertilized and watered simultaneously.
At UF/IFAS Extension in Hillsborough County, a 275-gallon cistern is used in the courtyard’s Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden. This cistern waters the bog garden, which contains carnivorous plants that prefer chemical-free water.
Rainwater harvesting is important because 1 inch of rain on a 1,000-square-foot roof yields 623 gallons of water. Florida’s annual precipitation average is 54.57 inches. Each of us could harvest more than 34,000 gallons.
Past workshop attendees have said they love the conservation aspects of rainwater harvesting, and are glad to do their part in decreasing stormwater runoff and erosion. Most wish they had more barrels.
Attend a rainwater harvesting workshop to learn about this water conservation method. Follow your homeowners association procedures before incorporating changes in your landscapes. As always, remember to reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat.
Each of us can make an environmental difference.
For timely research-based information to help solve any of your landscape questions, go to the University of Florida/IFAS Extension’s new “Ask IFAS” site at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.