Conserve Water with a Rain Barrel

Emmaline Harvey
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Struggling to maintain a green lifestyle and also keep your plants green in the summer heat? A rain barrel will help you keep your cool by reducing both your eco-footprint and water bill. A small rain barrel can collect upwards of 30 gallons, saving you roughly the equivalent of 15 full watering cans.

rain barrel

Installing a rain collection system is an environmentally friendly way for homeowners to access a supply of chemical-free water for use in their yard during restrictions and droughts.

The easiest and most common method to collect rainwater is to install a basic rain barrel, which is a container stationed along the side of your house that collects runoff from your home’s gutter system.

This simple process merely directs the downspout into a barrel (most commonly sized between 30-60 gallons) with a spigot at the bottom that can be attached to a hose or used to fill a watering can.

Try your hand at making your own DIY rain barrel using an inexpensive 32-gallon plastic trash can.

If you’d rather purchase a rain barrel, Home Depot has a wide range of options, many of which feature a space on top for some plants or a potted arrangement, seamlessly blending your water-saving secret in with the rest of your garden.

Some rain barrels come with a diverter, which attaches to a downspout and channels water to the bucket through a hose. When the bucket is full, the diverter redirects water flow back through the normal downspout as though no bucket were attached at all.

If a diverter is not part of your system, create a channel for the excess water to escape by attaching a length of hose, pipe or tubing at the top of your barrel and directing water flow away from your house.

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Make sure to set up your rain barrel on a sturdy foundation of bricks, decorative stone or tiles that will elevate its base one to two feet off the ground to allow you easy access to the spigot.

If you’d like to show off your new garden feature while continuing to improve your home’s eco-footprint, consider switching out your traditional downspouts for beautiful rain chains. Most homes have aluminum or plastic gutters, which will show signs of wear and eventually need to be replaced after years of use, creating more waste. Rain chains come in a variety of materials, the most common of which is copper — a long-lasting material.

To incorporate rain chains into your water collection system, remove the downspouts from your house and attach the chain to the mouth of the gutters. Then direct the end of the chain through the mouth of the barrel and anchor it inside using a stone or brick. Be sure to place a small screen over the opening that the chain passes through so that rain can be collected, but debris will be kept out.

whiskey rain barrel

Remember that while most rain barrels have lids, mosquitoes and other pesky bugs can still sneak in and find a way to lay eggs. To avoid being the unintentional host to a bug breeding ground, drop in some mosquito control tablets every 30 days.

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