Using a rain barrel may seem like a quaint and antiquated concept, but in reality, it is a great way to save money and preserve precious resources. Although you can purchase a DIY rain barrel kit, that may not be necessary. Using just a few tools and supplies you may already have around the house, you can have your water collection system set up and functional in a single afternoon. This is a fun and educational project that the whole family can enjoy. Depending on annual rainfall totals and your roof’s size, you can potentially collect a thousand gallons of water (or more) each year to use for lawn and garden watering, washing the car or even bathing your pets.
Assembling the Water Collection Container
Start with a heavy-duty plastic garbage can, preferably new or well-scrubbed. Drill a hole in the side that’s high enough to accommodate a watering can or bucket and insert a threaded metal spigot using a rubber washer and waterproof sealant. Using your downspout dimensions, cut a hole in the lid to allow water in. You’ll also need a vent/overflow hole in the top. Secure landscape fabric or tightly-woven screen fabric over the top of the can to keep debris and mosquitoes out, then attach the lid.
Placement of Your Water Collection System
Locate your gutter system’s downspout and determine the best orientation for the water collection container. Level the soil if necessary, then place concrete pavers or blocks for the container to rest on securely. This will help increase water pressure and make access easier. Cut the downspout to an appropriate height or remove it and attach a flexible downspout extension that will better align with the rain barrel’s opening. Some users attach a hose to the spigot to eliminate the need to carry water into the garden. You can also attach plastic tubing to the overflow hole and direct it into landscaping beds.
Alternative Containers for Harvesting Water
You can find dozens of online resources for building a water harvesting and storage system. If a plastic garbage container lacks the elegance you’d like for your yard or garden, consider using a wooden wine barrel. If you have limited space, of if your water needs are more modest, you can use five-gallon plastic bulk food containers or water cooler bottles. Avoid using any container that previously held toxic chemicals or paint.
Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City is an excellent source for all your garden needs. With a wide selection of flowers, plants and gardening supplies, the experts at Millcreek Gardens can help you find many uses for the water you’ll save in your rain barrel system.