Rain Barrels

A free source of water

Rain is the best way to water your lawn and garden, but it isn't always there when you need it. Lawn and garden watering accounts for around 40 percent of household water use during the summer. A rain water barrel collects and stores water for when you need it most – dry spells and droughts. You can then use this fresh water to water your plants, your lawn, wash your car or even top off your swimming pool. As a bonus, chlorine-free rain water is better for your plants than the chlorinated water available from your tap. Also, your plants will benefit from the absence of the fluoride, lime and calcium common in tap water.

All that sounds great, but what exactly is a rain barrel? Simply put, it's a barrel strategically placed to collect rain water from your roof that would otherwise end up in storm drains and eventually find its way to the sea. The components are simple. A 55-gallon drum (which can be made of just about anything watertight), a vinyl hose, PVC couplings and a screen grate to keep bugs and debris out of your barrel. Your rain barrel can sit conveniently under any gutter down spout, and be filled in a matter of minutes during a good rain.

A big plastic or metal drum would do the job, but they wouldn't exactly enhance your home's appearance. Thus a wood barrel would not only do the job, it would look great. Ready-made rain barrels are available for purchase, as are kits to turn any existing barrel into a rain barrel by combining it with your existing down spout.

A wood rain barrel, such as an oak rain barrel, will be sturdy and attractive, enhancing your home's appearance. It will also pay for itself with water savings. A rain barrel will most likely save you about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak months of summer. Saving water saves you money and energy by reducing your demand for treated tap water. It's green, too: diverting water from storm drains decreases the impact of hard rains on the local water table and runoff. And best of all, you install it once, and there are no ongoing expenses – just an eco-friendly source of water that saves you money and enhances the appearance of your home. After the initial expense of setting up the rain barrel, it's free to use.

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