Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 3: Installing a Rain Barrel

 

We all know that April showers bring May flowers. And if you have a rain barrel, you can stretch those beneficial showers even further. A rain barrel is a device that collects and stores rain water, therefore allowing you to recycle it in a variety of ways. It is an efficient device that is earth-friendly and easy to maintain. If your city has any type of water restrictions, then a rain barrel is a must for you in order to be able to water your plants. It is also a great way to know that, should you be without running water, you will have a stored supply available to you. Just one single rain barrel can store up to 80 gallons of rain water. I probably would not recommend drinking water from a rain barrel yourself. But collected rain water is perfectly sufficient drinking water for your survival garden.

You can purchase a rain barrel at pretty much any major lawn and gardening store for less than $100. Or, if you are a big do-it-yourselfer, you can even make one yourself. If you are particular about its appearance, then don’t worry. You’ll find that there are several different designs, including ones that are designed to match your decor, such as those that mimic the look of ceramic or terra cotta.

Rain Barrel Tip #1: If you have gutters, your rain barrel should be placed underneath a downspout on your house. If you do not have gutters, you can place the barrel under a spot on your roof where water flows off. Either way, this is the most logical place for your barrel to collect water.

Rain Barrel Tip #2: If your ground is not even, try placing the rain barrel on some cinder blocks, patio stones, or gravel. If it is possible, try to prop your rain barrel up so that it sits about 1-2 feet off of the ground. Cinder blocks are an easy solution for this, or some people build a wooden frame. This will make it easier for you to empty water from the barrel once it is full. (You should not expect to be able to lift 500 pounds of water, you’ll need to rely on a spigot.) Having the barrel propped up also means that you can rely on gravity to feed the water to the spigot, and into hoses.

Rain Barrel Tip #3: Once your rain barrel is in place, all that is left for you to do is cut your downspout, and/or the top of your barrel to insure that water flows into it. If your rain barrel has a solid lid, you will need to cut a hole for the downspout using a jigsaw. If your rain barrel does not have any lid at all, it is wise to cover it with a piece of screen in order to prevent leaves, debris, and animals from getting into your barrel. Try to fashion your rain barrel so that there is only one specific opening where the clean water will flow in.

Rain Barrel Tip #4: You also have the option of installing more than one rain barrel, and installing overflow tubes so that if one rain barrel overflows, the water will flow into another barrel.

Rain Barrel Tip #5: A rain barrel is really not something that can be used year round. You should not leave water in your barrel over winter to freeze. If you live in a region where you are still experiencing very cold weather, wait until the risk of a hard freeze passes in order to install your barrel. Once the start of spring hits your region, it’s rain barrel time.

For some great how-to tips, check out these resources:

Making and Installing Your Rain Barrel- Do It Yourself. com

Rain Barrel Basics- YouTube Video

How to Set Up A Rain Barrel- Cool People Care

Installing a Rain Barrel- Joel the Urban Gardener

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