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Garden expert shows off how they saved $700 with one free hack: 'Your setup looks dope'

"Permaculture is the way!"

"Permaculture is the way!"

Photo Credit: TikTok

Collecting rainwater is one of the most cost-effective ways to keep a garden healthy and watered — but one gardener took it to a new level with his completely free method. All that's required is a little digging.

The scoop

TikTok gardener Jacques (@JacquesInTheGarden) posted a video explaining the channel-and-swale system he built in his garden. "A 200-gallon rain barrel costs $700," he says, "So I built myself a swale instead. I just can't justify the cost of these barrels, it's out of control."

If you aren't familiar with swales already, a swale is essentially a shallow ditch that redirects water into a shallow basin, where it then seeps into the ground. Swales are generally accompanied by berms, mounds of earth that prevent the water from overflowing. 

In the video, Jacques demonstrated how rain flows from his roof into gutters, which then flow into a downspout, which then directs the water into a series of hand-dug channels.

@jacquesinthegarden How I capture #rain ♬ original sound - jacquesinthegarden

"Once the channel fills up," he explained, "it flows down into the berm and swale and allows water to slowly spread into my garden beds."

How it's helping

Grass lawns are infamous for guzzling water and racking up exorbitant water bills — not to mention harming local pollinators and taking resources from native plants.

Instead, planting a garden like Jacques' — especially one supported by zero-cost rainwater — helps to save money and supports local ecosystems at the same time. In the video, he reported that he harvested over 90 gallons of water in a single day from one rainstorm.

And fortunately, collecting rainwater is perfectly legal in every state. (There are certain state-specific regulations, though, so make sure to double check yours before you start).

There are other direct health benefits as well. Gardening has been shown to improve both physical and mental health, decrease stress, and support healthier lifestyles. And in addition to saving money on water bills, growing your own food will save you money at the grocery store too.

Additionally, areas that are hit with heavy rainfall can stop worrying about flooding, Jacques said. With this system, "all that wonderful water drains right into the soil instead of running off and flooding your house."

What everyone's saying

Gardeners and aspiring gardeners alike were eager to try their hand at the channel-and-swale approach. "Love that your showing cost effective options!" one person wrote.

"I have a water barrel but I want to install a dry creek bed system that works like this," another said. "Your setup looks dope."

A third put it simply: "Permaculture is the way!"

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