It is hard to argue against the merits of a large rain barrel positioned to catch rainfall, especially from downspouts or gutters, and using it for your plants on dry days or during drought.
If you have an engineering degree, you can build a cistern. Lacking that, think of ways to save water in large containers that can be covered.
Or, consider these:
- Giving new life to barrels originally designed for importing olives, the Great American Rain Barrel Company sells a polyethylene barrel that collects and stores up to 60 gallons of water. It comes with an overflow fitting, drain plug, screw-on cover, and threaded spigot for a hose positioned 14 inches from ground level. For more water storage, several barrels can be linked together with a garden hose. A diverter allows water to be channeled directly from a downspout into a barrel. For more information, including some on unpainted barrels, contact the Great American Rain Barrel Company, Inc., 1715 Hyde Park Avenue, Hyde Park, MA 02136, go to greatamericanrainbarrel.com , or call 800-251-2352.
- The Spruce Creek Company creates a 54-gallon rain barrel from a mold reminiscent of an old wooden barrel. Its one-piece construction is formed of durable, nearly 1/4-inch-thick, UV-protected, polyethylene plastic and promises ease of setup, safety for children and pets, reduced evaporation, and insect prevention. It comes with a threaded solid brass spigot, automatic overflow, linkability, and two dispensing levels. Check The Spruce Creek Rainsaver  for more details or call 800-940-0187.
For more tips on how to keep your garden green while saving water, see our water-wise garden article .