Water Your Garden, Save Money and Live Green with a Rain Barrel!
We all need to water our lawns and gardens sometimes to keep them green and healthy, especially during the dry summer we’re experiencing this year. But if you just reach for the garden hose when your lawn and garden are thirsty, you’re spending more on your water bill than you need to. Many of your neighbors use rain barrels as an inexpensive, environmentally friendly way to keep their plants healthy. Read on to find out how to try a rain barrel in your garden, it’s easier than you think!
According to the EPA, about 40 percent of the average family’s summertime water bill goes towards watering the tomatoes, the gardenias, and the lawn. If your home has a well, all of that lawn watering is raising your electric bill and subjecting your water pump to extra wear and tear. A rain barrel can put a lot of your hard earned money back in your pocket so you can spend it on something much more fun, such as improving your golf game.
Quenching your garden’s thirst with rain water is also good for the environment. Your plants don’t need the chlorine and fluoride found in most municipal water supplies, and using less treated water cuts down on energy consumption at the water treatment plant. The EPA says that a home irrigation system that uses a rain barrel can help the average household use about 1,300 gallons less water a month during the summer.
Rain barrels can even help you protect your home’s foundation and keep your basement dry by diverting rain runoff safely away from your home.
What You Need to Get Started
Most home improvement stores sell rain barrel kits that include everything you need to harvest rain water. A good rain barrel kit is the easiest solution.
If you’re looking to save money, a DIY rain barrel is the way to go. All you need are the necessary parts and a little elbow grease. The components of a rain barrel are,
A 55 gallon barrel. Make sure the barrel has not previously contained chemicals that could be harmful to your plants, plastic food grade barrels are best. Some restaurants are willing to give away used barrels. A barrel with a screw on lid is easiest to use, but you can make up for the lack of a lid by completely covering the top with flexible screening, held securely in place with a jumbo rubberband.
A screen to keep out debris and mosquitoes.
An overflow spout near the top of the barrel, and a drainage spout with a Y valve and spigot near the bottom of the barrel.
Cinder blocks to elevate the barrel.
Place your rain barrel on a solid, steady foundation, because the barrel will be extremely heavy when it is full. Elevate the barrel so you can reach the spout easily, and to use gravity to make the water flow out. Cinder blocks are perfect.
Install your rain water out of direct sunlight and drain it about once a week to discourage algae growth. If algae grows in your rain barrel, drain it and treat it with Wet and Forget.
Install screens on every opening, including the insides of both spouts, to prevent mosquitoes from using the water to breed.
The University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture has a terrific set of instructions for how to make a rain barrel. The information includes lists of all of the necessary parts and tools, along with a section on how to connect multiple rain barrels. These instructions also help you figure out how many barrels you will need for your lawn or garden.
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