The Benefits of Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are beneficial to the environment.

Collecting rainwater is nothing new, but modern rain barrels are introducing the old tradition to a new generation of gardeners and others who want to conserve resources. According to statistics by the city of Bloomington, MN, up to 40% of the water U.S. citizens use in the summer is for irrigation. Rain barrels not only offer a list of benefits to the environment and the user, they can be an attractive addition to your landscape or garden.

Rain Barrel Advantages

* Direct unwanted water away from a home's foundation
* Keep local waterways cleaner by reducing the amount of storm-water runoff
* Provide free water for landscaping
* Conserve drinking water and decrease the workload of your city's water system

How it Works

At its most basic, a rain barrel sits under an open down spout on your home or garage to catch water when it rains. The collected water can then be used to fill containers for spot watering or for outdoor cleaning. However, it only takes a few additions to turn an awkward barrel full of water into a functional collection system. Fitting a spigot into the body of the barrel makes it easier to fill water receptacles or water directly from the barrel with a hose. A filtering basket and lid prevents the spigot from getting clogged and keeps the water clean. Only wooden or food-grade plastic barrels should be used to build a rainwater collection system. 

They provide free water for landscaping.

Manufactured rain barrels offer a variety of additional options including flat-backed models that fit neatly against a building, the ability to connect several barrels together for major watering power or self-watering planters on the top of the barrel that increase aesthetic appeal.

Installation and Maintenance

A level, perforated surface, one which allows excess water to drain, should be prepared for the barrel. Allowing excess water to pool on or around cement foundations could result in serious damage. Store-bought rain barrels come complete kits to fit the end of the down spout into the top of the barrel. Preparing a level site and connecting the barrel are the only steps for installation.

Rain barrels do require some maintenance. Regular cleaning and scrubbing will prevent bacteria from building up in the water and causing a bad odor. Unless you live in an area that receives regular rain throughout the year, it makes most sense to use the collectors during the rainy season, wash and store them, then wash and re-install before the rains begin again.

They need a level perforated surface that allows drainage.

Capturing rainwater with rain barrels is fun and easy. You'll be conserving water and the energy needed to supply your home with water while you save money. Remember that rainwater isn't considered safe to consume, but it's a great resource for keeping the landscape green without depleting your community's municipal water source.

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