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How Do Rain Gauges Work?

Rain Gauge Description

A rain gauge is a cylinder-shaped receptacle that a gardener anchors into the ground either with a stake driven directly into the ground or with a post driven into the ground. The rain gauge has measured increments marked on the sides of the receptacle in graduated measurements starting with zero at the bottom of the rain gauge.

When the rain gauge is set up in an open area in a yard, rain that falls will fill the rain gauge. You can measure the rain using the marked increments on the side of the rain gauge.

Set Up the Rain Gauge

Select a location that is in an open area away from any structures and trees. If you place a rain gauge near a structure, the amount of rain that falls into the rain gauge may not be accurate because the structure may obstruct some of the rain that falls. For best results, place the rain gauge a distance away that is equal to two times the height of the structure.

Check the Rain Gauge and Record Results

Check the rain gauge at the same time every day and empty it. Write down the amount of rain you measure in the rain gauge. It is important to check the rain gauge daily because rainwater in the rain gauge will evaporate and this will distort your measurements and make them inaccurate.

Add up the daily rainfall amounts each week so that you have a weekly total of the rain that falls in your area. This can be beneficial information for a gardener, because if less than 1 inch of rain falls in a week, a growing area or garden may need supplemental water.

Use a Rain Gauge for Sprinkler Systems

In periods of drought when a sprinkler is necessary for watering a garden or flowerbed, place the rain gauge under the sprinkler so you will know when 1 inch of sprinkler water has fallen on the growing area. Run the sprinkler for 30 minutes and check the rain gauge. If 1 inch of water is in the rain gauge, stop running the sprinkler.

If less than 1 inch of water is in the rain gauge, run the sprinkler for 10 more minutes and check again. Keep track of how long you run the sprinkler to get 1 inch of water on the growing area so that you know how long to run the sprinkler to get 1 inch of water.

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