The Genius Gutter Hack That Will Keep Your Garden Hydrated

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Rainy afternoons are a gardener's best friend, especially on toasty summer days. A nice drizzle will keep your plants happy without hiking up the water bill. What if you and your garden could take advantage of that natural moisture even when it doesn't rain? By fashioning your gutters to connect with a rain barrel, you can keep your garden hydrated and your water bill low.

Instead of letting your gutters empty into a storm drain, place a rain barrel directly beneath them to capture the water. One way to go about this is by inserting a diverter inside your gutter that attaches directly to the inside of your rain barrel. This method requires you to cut your gutter, but it's a relatively easy project. Follow the instructions on your specific diverter kit, which you can find for less than $20 on Amazon. Or, position the bottom of your gutter above the barrel so that the water lands on top and drains in. Then, use the water from the barrel to fill your watering can each time your garden is thirsty!

As long as you practice proper rain gutter maintenance, the water from your rain barrels will be extra healthy for your plants since there's no chlorine, which is found in tap water. This method also diverts runoff that can otherwise become polluted with pesticides and other chemicals and reduces flooding risks.

How to safely and legally collect rainwater

While there aren't federal laws surrounding rainwater collection, some states restrict or prohibit the practice. For example, in Colorado, residents can only use two rain barrels and collect up to 110 gallons of water. On the other hand, states like Texas and New Mexico encourage rain barrels, offering rebates and incentives to residents who use them. It's also important to check with homeowners association (HOA) rules and other local regulations before installing this solution in your yard.

Before collecting rainwater, make sure to thoroughly clean your gutters without using any harmful chemicals that could impact your garden. You can DIY your own rain barrel or purchase one like this 55-gallon model from Home Depot for $99. There are plenty of different styles and sizes, but whether you build your own or buy one, make sure there's a closed lid with a filtering mechanism. A secure top is the only way to keep your rain barrel safe and mosquito-free.

Purchase or build a stand for your barrel to elevate the spigot high enough off the ground to get your watering can beneath it. You could fashion one out of a repurposed pallet or purchase one like this simple model from Walmart for around $35. Ensure that it's placed where it will collect the gutter water, but also make sure that any overflow or splash effect doesn't drain back toward your home's foundation.