Harvesting rain that falls on roofs and pavement is a simple and satisfying way to save water in the garden. The simplest way to catch rain is to dig earthworks–channels that direct rain to basins, where it sinks into the ground. French drains, swales, rain gardens, and ephemeral ponds are all examples of earthworks that can be built with only a shovel–and perhaps some sand or cobble.
These structures capture rainwater and create a diverse mosaic of beautiful—and often edible—plantings and wildlife habitats. They bring living water into the home landscape, reduce water consumption and pollution of local waterways, recharge aquifers, and reconnect the urban landscape to natural water cycles.