How To Collect Rainwater Without Gutters (4 Ways To Do It!)

Collecting rainwater is efficient and intelligent for any homeowner, and it can be done without gutters. Options like barrels and diverters are among the most common alternatives for collecting rainwater. Follow along as we explore the 4 best ways to collect rainwater without gutters.

How to Collect Rainwater without Gutters

It may seem like forever ago, but it really hasn’t been all that long since the days of needing to collect rainwater for gardening and landscaping purposes. As a matter of fact, today’s homes have roof gardens that not only absorb the rain but grow insulating layers of grass as well.

Place barrels under your roof or run underground pipes to them to collect rainwater. You can install catchment areas and diverters in your yard to salvage rainwater without gutters. Redesign your landscaping so that it is positioned to direct water to a diverter.

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Why Collect Rainwater?

For the uninitiated, it may seem perplexing. Why would you collect water when our homes not only have taps but hoses built into our very homes? Well, the answer varies but there are two reasons: costs and location. Using water through your home costs money, plain and simple.

Moreover, there is a chance that you may not have a hose spigot in a convenient location to properly reach all of your landscaping. Having access to the water that you need is important for the health and growth of your plants, grass, and your landscaping in general.

Collecting Water for Landscaping Purposes

  1. It’s free. Yes, you have access to flowing water whenever you want it from your sink or water spigot. But that water costs. While it isn’t terribly expensive, it can be more than some are comfortable paying. Rainwater is free and, depending on the area, plentiful.
  2. Your plants need it. Plants generally seem to be a bit brighter and greener in the wake of a good rain. Dirt and dust get washed away and the plant gets the nutrients that it needs to thrive. Rain also contains potassium, sulfur, and a variety of minerals and microorganisms that are beneficial to plants.
  3. Improves soil. Rain actually gets distilled prior to the evaporation process. This means that it is perfect for diluting any salt backups that may be happening in soils. With too much salt, plants can become stunted or even die. Rainwater is a great way to improve the quality of the soil and can even accentuate the fertilizer that you have laid down.
  4. Replenish groundwater. Because of modern amenities and construction, groundwater has decreased, substantially in some areas. Collecting rainwater can help to replenish the groundwater in your immediate area, making the landscapes that much healthier.
  5. Gravity makes it easier. The great thing about collecting rainwater is that it isn’t hard. With even a barrel, you can collect a decent amount of water. But by making use of gravity and the water that falls off of roofs, for instance, you can make collection even easier.

4 Ways to Collect Rainwater without Gutters

Method 1: Use Catchment Areas

The places on your rooftop where water naturally gets directed down a certain pathway is known as a catchment area. Slanting rooftops, for instance, direct rainwater down. And when two sections of rooftop come together, they will generally for into a single catchment line that directs the rainwater into a singular stream.

Those catchment areas work just like gutters do. That means there will be areas around your home where rainwater will fall in heavier, more concentrated areas. Having a drainage pipe or collection vessel at these junctures allows you to collect and/or distribute the rainwater. That means less wasted water and it also ensures that your home stays safe from potential water damage due to water build-up.

Method 2: Use Diverters

Diverters are quite similar to gutters, but they are not gutters. They are metal sections that can be installed above flower beds or doorways to help protect them in the case of frequent rainfall. Though they are similar to gutters, there are differences.

Diverters are generally aluminum in construction and are in increments of a few feet at most. They get fitted to the underside of your roof’s shingles to create a metal wall. The metal wall diverts the rainwater to other areas. Those diverters can form concentrated water streams that you can collect or simply channel elsewhere.

Method 3: Use the Landscaping

Depending on the way your landscape slopes, you may be able to use the land itself to direct and channel rainwater into specific areas. Take a look around for low-level areas where water builds up around your yard or garden.

Those spots are a great place to implement a diverter pipe. The diverter pipe can carry water to another area or away from your yard entirely if you get a lot of rain. You can even build a little valley into your landscape that carries water throughout the garden.

Method 4: Barrels

One of the simplest and oldest methods of collecting rainwater is to use a barrel or some other collection vessel. Landscaping and gardening centers even offer a wide array of rainwater collection barrels to choose from.

  1. Traditional barrels. For the simplest implementation, you can station a barrel somewhere in your yard. When it rains, the barrel will catch the water and you can go simplistic by filling up a watering can and using it around the yard.
  2. Underground pipes. If you want to get a little fancier about it, there are some barrels out there that you can connect to underground pipes. Those pipes then channel water into specific areas of the yard, creating a smaller irrigation system. Consider your landscaping needs before making your choice. If you have a larger yard, the first method may not be the most practical.
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All About Rain Barrels

Rain Barrel Collection Yield

Having a barrel to collect rainwater is a simple yet effective way of doing so. But how much water can you expect? Not only that, how long will it take to fill up that barrel? Knowing what to expect lets you know how much you can safely use before it refills again.

  1. Measure your home exterior. Start by measuring the width and length of the exterior of your home as well as the roof overhang.
  2. Catchment area. To find out what your roof catchment area is, simply multiply the length by the width.
  3. Multiply by 0.6. When you get your measurement, multiply that by 0.6 The 0.6 measurement is the portion of a gallon that you can harvest for every inch of water that falls per square foot of roof.

What you are left with is how many gallons you can expect your roof catchment rea to yield from a single inch of rainfall. It is also important that you don’t leave your rain barrel uncovered. If you have small children, it can create a safety hazard. More likely, though, you will find insects and debris floating around and no one wants that.

Keeping a Rain Barrel Fresh

While rainwater barrels are highly convenient, there is a chance that it can start to smell if it sits for too long. Thankfully, there are a couple of steps that you can implement to keep the barrel fresh, clean, and odor-free.

  1. Shade. If possible, keep your rainwater barrel stored in a shady spot. Too much exposure to sunlight can lead to algae growth. Algae is not only gross to look at, but it can create a rather repugnant smell that is none too pleasant.
  2. Empty it. Once a month or so, empty out your rainwater barrel and give it a good clean. While it may seem counterintuitive to dump water you’ve collected, it is the only way to keep the barrel clean. Scrub out the entire barrel using a little bit of baking soda and water. Baking soda eliminates odor, getting rid of any funk that may be there. Finally, make sure that you wash out the entirety of the barrel, even the screen and downspout.
  3. Chlorine bleach. Should you notice algae forming, don’t fret. Add in a single capful of chlorine bleach when it starts to fill, or you notice algae forming. Mixed with the water in the barrel, it won’t do any harm to your plants and will get rid of the algae or prevent it from showing up.

Keeping your barrel clean is a good idea not only to prevent nasty smells but to keep the barrel sanitary as well. Try not to go too long between cleanings as the funk will only get worse with time and neglect.

Full Rain Barrels

Depending on the amount of rainfall that you get and the frequency in which you use the water, a full barrel is a possibility. If your barrel has a diverter, that diverter will shut off and the rainwater will flow out of your gutter as it normally would.

If rainfall is excessively heavy, the worst that will happen is water will overflow out of the top of the barrel even if sealed. This usually isn’t a big deal but it can lead to flooding around the area of the barrel if not addressed.

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Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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