In his new book, Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2, Brad Lancaster lays out the eight principles of successful water harvesting. The book also shows gardeners of any sized property how to assess their site and create an efficient system to harvest rainwater. In this second volume, Lancaster details specific techniques for creating earthworks to channel and retain water. There is practical advice about diverting rainwater to irrigate planted areas as well as other sources of water you might not have thought of, like greywater from sinks and showers and even that little drip of condensed water that an air conditioner produces. The book is full of real-life stories to inform and inspire.

In this volume, you will learn how to create berms and basins to intercept runoff and make sure it infiltrates soil in a local area. Create terraces with level planting areas that catch and retain all the rain falling directly on them. Dig French drains to channel rainwater under the surface of flat areas like walkways. Make infiltration basins, shallow depressions that can receive greywater as well as rainwater. Investigate the possibility of using a strange-sounding method called imprinting. This is a great re-vegetation strategy that collects seeds, sediment, organic litter, and water and encourages plants to grow on denuded sites. This may not be for everyone, but it is fascinating to learn about. There is a chapter about mulching and another on reducing hardscape or replacing it with permeable materials. You can learn how to contour diversion swales to slow and redirect water as well as create small, pervious check dams that can also slow water allowing it to infiltrate the soil. Lastly, investigate how the right plant in the right place can contribute to the overall harvest (of water, that is).

Lancaster will give several presentations in Santa Barbara in September.

Rainwater Harvesting

Once a universal practice, harvesting rainwater has been replaced by inefficient and wasteful strategies such as pipes, canals, and sprinklers. In his newly published book, Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond: Volume 2, permaculturist Brad Lancaster shares techniques for designing landscapes that “passively harvest” water using regenerative systems. Lancaster will be in Santa Barbara offering a lecture, book-signing, and two-day workshop.

Water-Harvesting Lecture: Fri., Sept. 12, 1 p.m. UCSB’s Bren Hall, Rm. 4016. Free. For more info, contact Jami Nielsen at 893-2968 or

Rainwater Harvesting Presentation and Book-Signing: Fri., Sept. 12, 7:30-9 p.m. SBCC West Campus’s Fe Bland Auditorium, 721 Cliff Dr. For more info, visit

Two-Day Sustainable Design Workshop: Sat.-Sun., Sept. 13-14, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. SBCC East Campus’s EBS 309, 721 Cliff Dr. For more info, visit


For a complete schedule of Lancaster’s talks or to order Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond: Volume 2, visit


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