We recycle everything . . . even water. Which has been especially helpful during the water restrictions in the summer months. Our city has a program where it provides rain barrels for $60. We ran down and picked one up. There were added costs, we needed a bit of piping, and some cement blocks for it to sit on but all in, it was less then $80 (+$10 for a very small used water pump, a totally optional add on, you don’t need one)!
As I mentioned before where we live we have water restrictions in effect June through September, so having gallons of water for luxuries such as washing your car and watering your grass is very exciting for us.
Some Rain Barrel Facts:
A 55 Gallon Barrel will collect approx 1300 gallons of water each summer in our area.
Rain water is naturally soft and is great for car washing and watering delicate houseplants, as well as your entire garden.
Reduces the volume of water flowing into the sewers.
Chlorine free water helps maintain a healthy biotic community in the soil.
Some Rain Barrel tips:
If you are not going to use a pump and instead rely on gravity make sure to prop it up on blocks.
If you wanted to make it really low maintenance you could simply attach a soaker hose to the barrel, run it through your garden beds and never worry about watering your garden again! A soaker hose will provide a slow trickle of water consistently. Don’t use this method on your trees as it will make the roots grow shallow and close to the surface where the water is. We have trees that need watering in our front yard so we opted for the water pump!
If you are as concerned about mosquitoes as I am, drop a tablespoon of olive oil into the barrel every month and they absolutely won’t lay eggs in there Although the mesh should do the job of keeping them out, but you can’t be too careful when dealing with tiny vampires!
If you live in a VERY cold climate you might consider disconnecting your barrel and storing it. If you live in a moderately cold climate you can get away with emptying it and storing it upside down outside. Our climate is fairly mild so we’ll be storing it outside, although if we get a cold snap we’ll definitely empty it and store it upside down.
Lastly, a bit of a cosmetic tip, if you don’t like the color of your barrel you could definitely spray paint it with any paint made for plastic! We’re lucky ours came in the exact shade of our trim.
Like everything around our house it’s a work in progress, we still have plans for the rain barrel situation on the side, you’ll see we have the white PVC piping there (3.), which will connect to a water pump that will make it possible for us to have water pressure and use things like sprinklers and other hose attachments.
1. Mesh Screen. 2. Hose we’re using right now until the water pump system gets hooked up, if your using a gravity feed this hose is all you’ll need. 3. The PVC pipe with a hose attachment, it will run under the deck where the water pump is, and will pop out in the front of the house so we’re able to water the entire front yard using rain water. Gladly all of the piping will be hidden under the front porch.
We also have plans to add 3 small bushes in front of the barrel so that you don’t have to stare at all it’s hoses and pipes. But that’s going to happen either this fall or next spring we’ll see! What ever we plant there will need to be able to withstand some terrible soil conditions and not much light.