How To Collect Rainwater For Plants

how to collect rainwater for plants

Did you know that collecting rainwater is not only a great way to reduce your water bill, it’s environmentally friendly too! 

In this article, we will explore 10 different ways to harvest rainwater for your garden and the legalities behind it. Ready to find out more? Let’s begin. 

1. Collect with A Tarp


You don’t even need to have a roof for this option, and the water collected is generally cleaner. This is because there are no grimy gutters or roofs for the rain to travel down. 

So what does this process involve? Let’s find out.

Method (To be used for large storage tanks)

Step #1. First of all, you will need to dig a shallow, rectangular hole on an elevated area that should have a relatively flat surface. This should be located above where you plan to store the rainwater.

Step #2. Next, build a border out of dirt around the area and cover it with the tarp, using rocks to secure it in place. 

Step #3. Connect PVC pipe from the lowest point of the tarp to your storage vessel. Remember to seal the pipe to the tarp and the tank with a waterproof sealant to avoid leakages. 

For a cheaper option, you can dig a 6 ft hole into the ground and cover it with a tarp before securing it around the edges with rocks or other heavy objects. The rainwater collected here can be used to water plants or for other outdoor uses. 

2. DIY Barrel

If you have a couple of hours spare, a few tools, and basic DIY skills, this one is for you! This easy and effective way is a popular choice for many.  


Start by drilling a hole into a barrel of your choice. This could be a wine barrel, a galvanized tank, or an old food barrel. The hole should be located four or five inches from the bottom. This is where your spigot will be placed, so make sure the hole is slightly smaller or big enough to slot the spigot into. 

Next, use waterproof sealant between the barrel and the spigot to reduce the chance of any leakages. 

Lastly, you will need to cut a hole in the lid, so the water has access to it. Attaching a mesh filter over the opening will reduce the chances of small insects and debris entering. 

TIP: Be sure to leave enough space to fit a bowl or a bucket underneath the spigot to extract your rainwater collection.

3. Trash Can

This works pretty much the same as a DIY barrel and is just as effective. Just be sure to thoroughly sanitize the can before use.  Also, be sure not to leave the can in the same spot for a lengthy period of time as it might kill any vegetation (grass) underneath.

4. Rainwater Garden 

This solution is simple but extremely effective. 

All you need to do is dig small channels around your garden wherever it receives run-off from downspouts. If your yard and home are all on one level, this can be resolved by digging further into the ground.

5. A Green Roof

If you live in a drought-stricken area, investing in a green roof is ideal for conserving valuable water resources. This option is much more costly than others. However, it will save money in the long run. 

We won’t delve too much into the technology, but these environmentally friendly structures are designed to keep the water cleaner than other roof schemes. 

6. Harvesting System

Also known as rainwater ‘catchments,’ this kind of system can be as intricate as you like – as long as you are willing to pay a high price. 

Not only are they designed for garden irrigation, but they can also be used to supply water to an entire household. This includes toilet flushing, clothes washing, hot water heating, and using it as drinking water. 

Cheap Alternatives 

We get it. Most of the ideas mentioned above are either pretty costly or hellishly time-consuming. And let’s face it, many of us simply do not have the time! 

That’s why we have put together a shortlist of cheaper methods below that get the job done and cost next to nothing. 

7. Watering Can

You can use this rainwater to water greenhouse plants or vegetation. Using it in a birdbath for birds to wash and drink from is another use. This is a clever way to attract different species to your garden. 

8. Inflatable Pool 

We’ve all been there. Once the sunshine makes an appearance, it’s time to get the inflatable pool out for the kids. And most of the time, we’re too lazy to deflate them. 

Well, now you have an excuse! We’re not saying this method will massively reduce your water bill (to be honest, it will barely make a dent), but it’s simple and effective. 

TIP: Inflatable pools attract a whole host of insects such as mosquitoes and wasps, so don’t leave the water sitting there for too long. 

9. Plant Pots 

Not only will they support your plants, but the more you have, the more rainwater you can save! And you don’t have to spend a fortune either. Plastic tubs cost a few dollars at most. Just make sure they don’t have holes at the bottom. 

10. Buckets

Basically, anything that resembles a pot will suffice! This won’t supply a lot of water to the household, but it is there if you need it in the event of an emergency.

Is Harvesting Rainwater Illegal?

According to, harvesting rainwater is not entirely illegal in any of the 50 states. Most states have no rules whatsoever on how rainfall should and should not be used. So what about the areas that do?

Colorado residents, for example, are able to use 2 rain barrels that should not exceed a capacity of 110 gallons. This can only be used for outdoor purposes at the property at which the rain was collected. 

It is also highly regulated, in the state, of Illinois and must only be used for non-potable purposes such as outdoor use. 

So what is the reasoning behind this? There is a belief that harvesting rainfall may disrupt the natural flow of rain back into the bodies of water across Earth, although there is little evidence to prove this theory. In fact, many states encourage this practice and offer exemptions and tax credits as an incentive. 

A Final Note

The best way to collect rainwater really depends on how much time and money you want to invest. We hope you find at least one method that will change the way you feel any time there is a downpour!  

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts