The great rain gain with rain barrels in Leaside

The Leaside Gardener

Rain on leaves.
Staff photo.

“The best things in life are free. The second-best things are very, very expensive.”  —Coco Chanel

What kind of summer will we have? A wet one with flooding like last year? Hot with a record-breaking drought like the summer before?

Only time will tell because our weather patterns have changed and all we can expect now is the unexpected. One thing we do know is we’re having a wet spring and this is a perfect time to harvest nature’s best water for our gardens…rainwater!

Whether we get a dry or wet summer, collecting and storing rainwater for later use can help with both climate conditions in many ways.

According to “Residential dwellings in Leaside” data that Doug Obright provided to the LPOA for their 2017 AGM, I found at least 4,500 homes that could accommodate at least one rain barrel.

If each one of these homes filled a 200-litre rain barrel, then 900,000 litres of rainwater would be diverted from our storm sewers. If that water were stored and used for watering gardens, it would save 900,000 litres from our municipal water supply. That’s all with just one rain barrel each. Imagine the numbers if those barrels were filled and used five, 10 or 20 times throughout the summer, and imagine if I included apartment buildings and condos. That’s just Leaside!

A single rain barrel may not seem like much but collectively, a drop in the bucket really does add up.

The Bayview Pixies (full disclosure: I am one of the Pixies) know all about this. They’ve been watering the trees on Bayview for the last two years with harvested rainwater. They collect it from a large garage roof, then transfer it to holding containers until they need it. Sure, it’s more work but worth the effort because not only is it free, rainwater is filled with oxygen and nitrogen that plants need and love, unlike tap water that’s filled with chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals that plants neither need nor like.

The Bayview Leaside BIA will be installing two more rain barrels this year thanks to a grant from the New Horizon for Seniors Program. This should provide the Pixies with enough rainwater to keep the 79 trees on Bayview hydrated and healthy.

Using rainwater is just one way to be water-conscious. Our fresh water supply is not an everlasting resource. Water restrictions like those in Cape Town and California can happen here too and not because of scarcity but because of contamination.

Our infrastructure has not kept pace with our steady population growth, which continues to alter our environment with more impervious materials. Extreme rain events are more common and have nowhere to go except into outdated and ill-equipped storm sewers. This is how our water supply can become contaminated and until our city planners address these problems, we must do what we can to help.

So, get a rain barrel and use one of the best things in life for free. The second best is indeed very, very expensive!

Learn more from the Leaside Garden Society. Guest speaker Shari-Lyn Safir, an organic landscaper of 15 years, will talk about environmentally friendly garden practices including water-wise gardening. This all takes place at the Leaside Library on May 10th at 7:30 p.m.

About Debora Kuchme 14 Articles
After a 30-year career as a fashion designer, Debora worked at Horticultural Design for over a decade. Now with her concerns about climate change, she hopes to help local gardeners find positive solutions for a greener and healthier neighbourhood. As a board member of the Bayview Leaside BIA, she created the Bayview Pixies, a volunteer group introducing sustainable gardening practice to Bayview.