How to Collect Rainwater without a Roof

What do you picture when you think of rainwater harvesting? For most people, it is the roof, gutters, and rain barrels. Of course, it is the most common method globally. But what if I told you it is possible to harvest rainwater directly from the sky, no roof, no gutters but at least with a barrel or tank?

Well, the first time it hit my mind, I couldn’t quite put two and two together. However, after digging a little deeper, the possibility dawned on me.

Today I want to share with you how to collect rainwater without a roof. Trust me, it is not rocket science, neither is it any expensive, but with a couple of hours at hand, your roofless water harvesting system should be in place.

If you are ready for this thrill, no need to waste time. Let’s dive right in.

How to Catch Rainwater without a Roof

I suppose most of you are like me, used to the conventional rainwater harvesting technique. But the world is changing, and water as a resource is getting limited each passing day. Thus we need to maximize water harvesting to have enough for homes and gardens.

Soon our roofs won’t be able to sustain our rainwater needs. Here are a few roofless methods you can implement around your home.

Method 1: Using Rain Saucers

While doing this research, I realized that most households are slowly adapting to rain saucers as an alternative rainwater collection technique. Apparently, you can collect about 6.75 gallons of rainwater for every inch of rainfall.

But what really is a rain saucer?

It is a rainwater collection system independent of roofs and gutters often placed in an open field free of trees and buildings. You might confuse it with an inverted umbrella sitting on a barrel. But there is more. Usually, it comes with a mesh filter, fasteners, piping, and a ring to hold it against strong winds.

There are two ways you can go about installing a rain saucer at home. One is using a pre-made rain saucer from the company or building one yourself. Whichever you find suitable, go ahead and do it, but if you like projects, you might want to construct one yourself.

Cons of Having Rain Barrels

Method 2: Tarp Rainwater Collection

This is a method you would use if caught up in the wilderness and had absolutely no water source. But would it hurt to use it at home as an extra rainwater collecting point? Of course not. In fact, you have the guarantee of safer water since it doesn’t flow on roofs or gutters.

Here is how to collect rainwater using a tarp.

What you will need;

  • Brush clearing tools
  • Flat elevated collection site
  • A plastic tarp
  • Connecting pipes
  • Storage vessel

Step 1: Choose an Elevated Area

To maximize the amount of water collected, choose an elevated ground and ensure that it is flat with a slight slope towards one of the corners. The raised surface increases gravity in that as water is collected at the corner, it can easily flow to the storage vessels.

Step 2: Clear the Ground

Of course, you don’t want a collection point filled with brush and leaves. Clear out the area and use the brush and dirt to create rectangular edges or borders to support the tarp.

Step 3: Sink the Tarp in the Cleared Rectangular Area and Connect the Pipes

Once the ground is clear and the edges raised with brush and dirt, cover the whole rectangular area with the tarp, then sink the center such that we have raised edges.

Remember the ground slopes towards one of the corners to connect the draining pipes to the storage vessel down the slope. To maximize the amount of water collected, use a large storage tank, either an above-ground tank or an underground tank.

How to Collect Rainwater without GuttersĀ 

While researching how to collect rainwater without a roof, I realized that sometimes we don’t really need the gutter system. Not to dispute the importance of gutters in rainwater collection, but there is a need to have our options in check.

How to get rainwater away from the house

Option 1: Making use of Roof Catchments

Depending on your roof design, you may notice areas where water from different roof sections meet and follow a particular pathway. Normally a slanting roof will direct water towards a slope. Various roof sections sloping towards the same direction create what we call a roof catchment area.

If such is the case of your roof, you will notice that certain locations on your rooftop give more rainwater during a downpour. To prevent the water from going to waste, install drainage pipes at these locations then direct them to a storage vessel.

Option 2: Landscaping

We all acknowledge landscaping as a way of making our homes more appealing to the eyes of onlookers. But do you also know that you can actually harvest rainwater with properly done landscaping?

Well, I am about to surprise you. For this method, you don’t need your roof and, most specifically, your gutters. Why? You will be collecting water directly from the sky to the ground and then to your storage vessels.

Here is how it happens.

Water often collects in shallow grounds around the garden or even the yard whenever there is a downpour. Such areas are good to install diverter pipes to redirect the water flow into storage vessels.

That is the concept behind this whole idea, but you’ll need a professional landscaper to make it perfect. Use plastic tarps connected with drainpipes in the shallow collecting points to prevent contamination from the ground. Once the tarps fill up with rainwater, the drainpipes direct the flow into storage vessels.

How to treat rainwater for drinking

How to Collect Rain Water without a Roof: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the best way to collect rainwater?

For every inch of rainfall on a 1000 square foot roof, you can actually collect about 600 gallons of water. This fact proves that collecting rainwater from the roof through the gutters and into storage containers is the best way possible. More so, you don’t need to go into the rain each time to change the vessel if full.

Q: Can you collect rainwater without gutters?

Most homes use gutters to collect rainwater from the roof, but you can still collect rainwater even without gutters in place. In most cases, some homeowners without gutters place barrels and butts just below the roof to reduce runoff water. Some collect water using rain saucers, while others use plastic tarps.

Q: How do I collect rainwater from my garden?

You may notice that whenever it rains, water collects in shallow grounds of your garden. This resource doesn’t need to go to waste. So having a plastic tarp cover that area can help collect the excess water. Also, you can set up stand-alone rain saucers in the garden to trap rainwater directly from the sky.

Bottom Line

Rainwater is among the few sources of fresh water in the world. According to the World Health Organization, the demand for freshwater is always increasing, and so far, it has overstretched supply.

Truly, there is a need to maximize rainwater harvesting, and learning how to collect rainwater without a roof is one step in the right direction.

The invention of rain saucers has sure made a huge impact on the whole aspect of water harvesting. Not to forget the use of plastic tarps and targeted landscaping to get even more water.

How to store rainwater for plants.