Rain Barrels are one of those garden tools that seem like a no brainer. You have free money raining down on your roof, why not capture it?? (yes, it called for two question marks)
There is nothing better for your plants, veggies and ponds than rain water. The water in our tap is filled with chemicals and the chlorine can really wreak havoc on your plants. I am sure you have noticed the difference on your yard after a good rain, your plants always look greener and the production is always greater after a good soaking.
Barrels are super easy to install and they come in many colors, shapes and sizes for those of you who aren’t interested in making your own (even though it is super simple, check out this site!) they can be purchased on-line or at some big box stores. If you aren’t seeing them at stores, please ask the managers to keep them in stock. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
You need to have gutters for a rain barrel. Gutters are a good thing to have anyway because aside from the detriment that rain beating down on your soil and plants creates in the form of compaction, soil erosion and foundation damage, gutters also hold value and increase property value. Gutters are available in metal and vinyl and are easier to install than one might think. (unless of course you have a two-story house 😉
An average 2000 sq ft house can collect as much as 30,000 gallons of rain during an average rain fall year. A 1200 sq ft roof top will fill a 55 gallon rain barrel with as little as 3/10’s of an inch of rain. These are huge numbers. If you calculate how much you would pay for this quantity of water from the city, you can see that the barrels pay for themselves.
Rain Barrels need to have overflow spouts and can be connected to a series of barrels by these overflows. You can string together as many or as few as you like. they have a tap near the bottom of the barrel that can be used for filling buckets, or to attach a hose. The barrel should to be elevated to have the proper pressure for a hose. The higher the barrel, the more pressure, so always raise your barrel on stone or blocks instead of placing it on the ground, but make sure the footing is sturdy enough to support the weight of a filled barrel.
Be sure to occasionally empty your barrel and allow to dry to avoid algae growth in the shallow water. Algae isn’t harmful, but not emptying the barrel in the winter is. The contraction and expansion of the water in the winter can crack your barrels, so be sure to follow proper weatherization and you will be fine.
You can find out a lot of great info on rain barrels on the net, do your homework and make this the year you add a rain barrel/s to your garden. I remember the first rain after my husband and I installed ours. We were SO excited by all of the water we collected in a few minutes of rain.
finally, make sure you keep any openings of either your home-made barrels or purchased barrel are covered with a wire mesh or screening. You aren’t trying to grow mosquitoes, your just trying to shrink your water bill while actively practicing water conservation.
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
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