I live in Sedona and our weather station this morning, February 8th, says that we have gotten just over 3″ of rain so far this month! Plus, we had about 1.5″ of rain in January. Most of the rainfall was slow and drizzly, so it soaked into the soil.

My husband has spent time over the last three years building multiple berms on our property to slow down and catch rainwater so that it can soak into the soil instead of running off. Sometimes this is a series of berms 20-30 feet apart along a slope of land. He uses branches (which act like rebar), rocks, and soil to build the berms. Over time, native plants cover the berms to help hold them together. When there is a heavy monsoon rain, a berm fills up, and the water overflows into the next berm.

In another, more level area, he has removed soil to form multiple pockets that water can fill up to form small pools. He estimates that these pools hold up to 1500 gallons of water. Then the water spills over, flows across the driveway, and travels behind our garage.

We also have multiple rain barrels which are currently full, yea! Good thing we added more last summer. Most of our storage is used IBC totes. However, two years ago we bought two 2500-gallon tanks from Home Depot.

Another tactic to catch rainwater is using mulch. We had a local tree trimming service drop loads of wood chips at our house several times. We use these wood chips to mulch around trees and in the landscape. Wood chips not only help prevent runoff by absorbing rainfall, but they also slow down evaporation and keep the soil cooler, a win–win–win! The chips also feed the soil as they break down, another bonus. A thick enough layer of mulch will retard the germination of weed seeds and make it easier to pull the ones that do grow. I love mulch!

What are you doing to catch rainwater?

By Peggy Ahola
Peggy is a member of Sedona Area Garden Club and is the AFGC Treasurer and AFGC Schools Chairman.

Photos by Peggy Ahola