7 Easy Ways to Save Water When It Rains (Without a Rain Barrel)

Save Water When It Rains

Southern Californians need to save water any way we can, which includes making the most of our infrequent rainy days. Rain barrels are an easy solution for capturing rainwater for later use, but not everyone has room for a rain barrel or you might not have a chance to purchase one before the next storm. Whether or not you have a rain barrel or other rain catchment system, there are ways you can save water every time it rains.

Here are seven easy ways to save water when it rains.

7 Ways to Save Water When It Rains

1. Turn off your irrigation system.

When the forecast calls for rain, make sure to turn off your irrigation system. This is an easy way to save water by simply letting Mother Nature irrigate your garden or landscaping for you. If you are afraid you will forget to turn off your automatic irrigation system when it rains or like to automate your home as much as possible, you can install a rain sensor that automatically skips irrigation cycles when enough rain has fallen to provide the amount of water your landscaping needs.

2. Plant seeds, seedlings and flowers.

When you know rain is on the way, head out to your garden to plant seeds, seedlings and flowers. Then, instead of dragging out the hose to give your seeds or transplants a good watering, you can allow the rain to do it for you. This will save water and save time.

Water Seedlings with Rainwater

3. Set water bowls outside.

Gather all of the water bowls you keep around the house for your dogs, cats and other pets and set them outside to allow them to fill with rain. You will want to make sure that you set them away from your roof, awnings, canopies and other structures, since you want pure rainwater that is not contaminated with the dirt and debris found in water that runs off of structures.

4. Move plants outside and out from under coverings.

Another easy way to save water is to irrigate your plants with rainwater as it falls. It is generally considered a bad idea to irrigate plants grown for food with water from rain barrels, but it is perfectly fine to water them with pure rainwater falling directly from the sky. Bring out your houseplants and move plants on porches and patios out into the open so that they can be irrigated by the rainfall. If you have delicate plants, be sure to move them inside or under cover if the rain gets too heavy.

Save Water with Buckets

5. Set out buckets and bowls.

If you do not have a rain barrel, setting out buckets and bowls at the corners of your roof is a great way to capture rainwater for later use. If you do have rain barrels, you can supplement your rainwater harvesting by setting out buckets as well. If you are capturing rain from your roof, you can then use the water to flush toilets, rinse recyclables or irrigate ornamental plants. If you place the buckets away from structures and capture pure rainwater in clean buckets, you can also use the water to fill your pet’s water bowls or irrigate your fruit trees or vegetable garden.

6. Set out items that need to be rinsed off.

If a good rainfall is expected, you can save water and time by setting out items that need to be rinsed off. For example, instead of rinsing off children’s toys or pet toys in the sink, you can set them outside to be rinsed off by the rain. This works best if you have an artificial grass lawn or paving stone patio so that mud or blades of natural grass do not stick to the toys. This is also a great way to rinse off gardening tools – just make sure to dry them afterwards to avoid rusting.

Wash Your Car In the Rain

7. Soap up your car right before it rains.

When you know rain is coming or when it first starts to sprinkle, head outside with a bucket of soapy water and lather up your car. Use as little water as possible to make your washing liquid, and then allow the rainwater to rinse the soap off of your car. Make sure you use a natural soap to avoid polluting ground water.

Additional Ways to Save Water by Collecting and Using Rainwater


Photo Credits (in order of appearance): morgueFile, cooee; morgueFile, kuntal; morgueFile, jdurham; morgueFile, xenia