By Joey and Holly Baird Special to Published Mar 27, 2015 at 4:06 PM

World Water Day was last Sunday. On this day, we think about the importance of clean water – something to consider in regards to your garden as well.

Ideally, rainwater is what is best for your garden. Rainwater is the most natural, and if you can collect it, it is free. It is also important not to waste water seeing as only one-third of the people in the world have access to clean water. If you look at how things are in California with the extreme drought, being able to conserve and collect water is important. 

One of the easiest ways to collect water is through a rain barrel. These are easily installed to the downspout of your gutter system, and rain is then collected for your use. You can find rain barrels for purchase at your local garden center, local organic or natural food store, or you can contact your local municipality as they may have information where to purchase one. In greater Milwaukee, MMSD offers barrels and information here.  They are not expensive considering how much money you will save by not using water from your home. They are also easy to install. 

You can also make a rain barrel from a used barrel or even from a large garbage can with a lid.  If you do make one from a reused barrel, make sure you know what was previously stored in it. You want to ensure there are not any harmful traces of chemicals. Making one can be easily done, and you can find the plans online.

If you cannot attach something to your downspout, you can look into something called the rain saucer. This device fits onto a large garbage can and allows for the funneling of rainwater into a garbage can. This allows your rain collection device to stand alone, which is a great option for renters or roof top rainwater harvest. It is an efficient way to capture rainwater. 

Other options for rainwater collection include creating a reservoir or a retention pond. Many people will get creative with their own landscape to create a place to have the rainwater collected in a natural place and then pumped from or just carried from that location. This is ideal if you have a bit more land than others and can alter or allow the water to flow to an area for use. If you choose to do this, you want to check with your local town hall or government to ensure it is allowed. 

Many people don’t realize the one big reason rainwater is best is because there are things in most city water that can harm the beneficial bacteria in your soil. If you are unable to collect rainwater in any form and must rely on city water, I would recommend getting a filter, one that goes on the end of your hose – something like the ones made by Body, Mind and Soil. This will ensure that you are not harming your active, living soil.

For more information on water collection and proper watering techniques, please visit our website.