UC Master Gardeners

Consider installing a rainwater catchment system

UC Master GardenerOctober 2, 2013 

Using a rainwater catchment system can save water in the garden. This garden is watered using saved rainwater.


Q: What is a rainwater catchment system?

A: We all talk about it. We all wait for it. Maybe your crazy neighbors do a dance for it. One thing we don’t do is conserve it. We’re talking about rainwater, and considering that only 1 percent of the world’s water is drinkable, it’s pretty amazing that we wantonly turn on our spigot to water our prized roses while allowing “runoff” to pollute waterways.

A water catchment system works with our natural infrastructure by collecting rainwater from a large, hard surface, such as a roof. Water travels down the roof and into the downspouts, which are connected to some type of container, such as an enclosed barrel or cistern. The water is then saved for future use. It is important to remember that the collected water is considered non-potable and should only be used for purposes that do not require potable water, such as watering inedible plants or washing your vehicle.

Rainwater catchment systems range from simple to complex. A plain barrel or container serves a small area. More complicated versions incorporate filters that clean the water, connections to irrigation equipment and even pumps. Most barrel-type systems incorporate a hose connection to allow for easy watering.

Over time, water catchment systems make an impact. The average 1,000-square-foot roof collects approximately 600 gallons of water during a 1-inch rain.

Building your own system need not be complicated. A motivated do-it-yourselfer can create a system that will collect significant amounts of water, save money and prevent runoff pollution.

Tomato Extravaganza and Plant Sale update

The Master Gardeners of San Luis Obispo County held this annual sale Sept. 14. It was a beautiful day in the Garden of the Seven Sisters and everyone had a great time. The favorite varieties for the tomato tasting were: Sungold tomatoes, followed by Pineapple tomatoes and Persimmon tomatoes. For the basil tasting, there was a tie for the favorite between cinnamon and lime varieties. The third favorite was Italian Genovese. We hope to see you at our next Tomato Extravaganza in September 2014.


Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners website at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo   or email mgsanluisobispo@ucdavis.edu.

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