Gardeners are always more aware of rainfall than non-gardeners. We watch the skies anxiously, wondering if rain will arrive in time to help our flowers and veggies. Weather reporters and websites provide general precipitation measurements for the area, but it can be helpful to know if and how much rain actually fell in your own yard. This is where rain gauges become handy tools.
Rain gauges have been around for almost 600 years, and were first recorded in Korea in 1441. Thomas Jefferson was fond of tracking the weather conditions, and may have used a gauge like the one shown above, available at Wind & Weather. Today meteorologists use rain gauges that aren’t all that different from those original gadgets. (Learn about the standard rain gauge used by the NWS here.) If you want to install a rain gauge in your own garden, here are a few to try and some tips for using them.
Many rain gauges are designed to make it easy to read them from a distance. This is important, since you’ll want to make sure your place your rain gauge out from under the eaves of your house and away from any trees or overhanging vegetation. The LaCrosse Waterfall Rain Gauge ($7, Amazon) has large numbers and a floating red marker that’s easily seen from a distance. Mount it to a fence or deck railing. The simple AcuRite Easy-Read Rain Gauge ($8, Amazon) can be staked into the ground or screwed into a fence or mounting post.
If you’re really serious about tracking precipitation, step up to a wireless electronic rain gauge. Mount the collection cup on your roof if you like – the cup self-empties automatically. Information is sent to a receiver inside the house so you can easily monitor it. The AcuRite Deluxe Wireless Rain Gauge ($28, Amazon) is a good starter set, or look into a variety of more comprehensive weather stations that also measure humidity, pressure, wind speed, and more.
If you prefer more decorative rain gauges, Colonial Tin Works makes a table-top version ($25, Amazon) featuring two adorable birds. This one is easy to move, so you can measure rainfall in different areas of your garden if you like. The Floating Rain Gauge ($25) from Wind & Weather is another interesting alternative. The polycarbonate tube floats as it fills with rainwater, revealing the precipitation measurement.
Do you have an area in your yard that receives rain run-off? Try planting a rain garden to take advantage of the built-in irrigation.