Rain Barrels

rain barrel greenThere are many varieties and sizes of rain barrels on the market, but the basic concept of collecting rain water from a downspout or roof drain pipe is the same.

In general, a “home sized” rain barrel , which you may find on-line or at a garden center, is usually a re-purposed container, and holds about 60 gallons of water.  Rain barrels are ideal for use where there is no spigot or water source nearby.  A one-inch rainfall on a 1,000 square foot roof yields approximately 600 gallons of water.

Larger commercial sized rain water collection systems, which can hold hundreds to thousands of gallons of water, are available for larger landscapes, such as at schools, small farms and businesses.

Check on the web for more information on the variety of rain barrels and rain water collection systems available.  The Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Division is a good resource for information on rain water harvesting.

multi rain barrels white for webA few tips when setting up a smaller rain barrel under a downspout:

  • Place the rain barrel on a secure, flat surface, which can handle heavy weight.  Cinder blocks are ideal for this purpose.  A 60 gallon rain barrel can weigh about 500 pounds when full.
  • Raise the barrel up a few feet in order to create an area under the spigot for a watering can, and to help create more water pressure.
  • Make sure that your rain barrel has a screen at the top to keep out leaves and debris, and to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
  • If desired, rain barrels can be linked together to collect larger amounts of water, and pumps can be used to help with water distribution.
  • Remember to winterize your rain barrel.  Empty out all water and place hoses inside of the barrel for storage.  Barrels can be tipped upside down and left in place, or stored in a garage or basement.

In addition to using rainwater for plants, you can use it for washing cars, outdoor furniture, toys, garden tools, and muddy hands!

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