The old rhyme “April showers bring May flowers,” doesn’t work so well here in central Florida. For us, the rhyme should be, “April and May flowers bring lots of summer showers.”
So what should homeowners do with all this extra rainwater? Why, save it and store it of course.
Saving rainwater for future use is called “rainwater harvesting,” and it is an important part of a Florida-friendly landscape.
If you have been reading this blog series then you know that Florida-friendly landscaping is key to entering the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards. Now in its 16th year, the awards program, sponsored by Tampa Bay Water, the UF/IFAS Extension and the Florida-Friendly Landscaping program, recognizes those homeowners and businesses committed to conserving water and protecting the environment by using the most water-efficient landscaping practices.
As mentioned earlier, a key component of any Florida-friendly lawn is the use of Rainwater Harvesting. This is the collecting and storing of rainwater. Collection is usually from your home’s roof, and storage is in a catchment tank.
There are several reasons rainwater harvesting is so important. Harvesting rainwater reduces the amount of stormwater runoff that occurs, which helps reduce the amount of nutrients and contaminants that get washed into water bodies in which we fish, swim and use as drinking water sources.
Using stored rainwater instead of your home’s irrigation system can allow you to turn off the system and water plants that need it only. Rainwater harvesting reduces the use of potable (drinking) water for irrigation uses, allowing it to be used for its highest and best use - drinking.
Rainwater harvesting works best on Florida-friendly landscapes – those that do not need much supplemental irrigation, which lowers the size catchment tank needed. These environmentally-friendly landscapes not only require less water to thrive, but also can reduce stormwater runoff.
The easiest and most inexpensive way to begin harvesting rainwater is with a rain barrel. Rainwater harvesting workshops, available through the University of Florida IFAS Extension program, teach you how to build and use a rain barrel. To find a workshop near you, visit http://pinellas.ifas.ufl.edu.
Tampa Bay Water has developed a six-part video series that highlights previous winners of the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Award, and provides tips on how you can make your landscaping more water-efficient and Florida-friendly. Who knows, maybe next year you will be a winner!