The basic idea behind a rainwater harvesting system is to capture water to irrigate your garden and sometimes to use in the home. When you think of rain barrels, you probably picture an ugly, plastic container to catch water, maybe with a spigot to feed the garden, but rainwater harvesting systems can also be beautiful.
Systems can be as simple as a plastic barrel, but companies like Rain Xchange offer stunning rainwater harvesting systems that look like an urn or a fountain. Rather than the typical DIY rain barrel that you're probably used to seeing, these more elaborate setups collect rainwater while enhancing the beauty of your lawn. The collection system is underground, so that you can collect, store and use rainwater without sullying your landscape.
If you're going to install any sort of rainwater harvesting system, it's important to check local laws first. Some areas don't allow any rainwater harvesting, and you don't want to invest in a system only to find out that you're violating a city or state ordinance [source: Lance]. The same goes for using rainwater in the home. Collected rainwater is considered grey water, and in some places you need a special permit to reuse grey water in your home, even for flushing the toilet [source: Portland Online].