Many Sarasota and Tampa residents are interested in learning more about green methods for landscaping and gardening. A rain barrel is a fun and efficient way to collect water for this purpose.
Water is a crucial resource. You can make your garden more water-wise by installing a rain barrel as opposed to using a hose for daily watering. A rain barrel increases your yard’s sustainability by diverting water from your roof that would otherwise be lost as runoff. This eco-friendly device saves thousands of gallons of hose water over the span of just a few months, so the environment will thank you for conserving water while your wallet thanks you for saving energy and money.
Rain barrels are simple systems that attach to your gutter downspout. There are kits available from various vendors, or you can purchase the parts separately. Here is a list of the parts you will need, and a step-by-step of how to build your own sustainable rain barrel
- A 55-gallon, food-grade barrel
- a mesh or thin-spaced chicken wire filter
- downspout extender
- cinder blocks
- Rinse inside the barrel with bleach and water to remove any food residue (if you bought it used from a beverage or pickle company) It is important to purchase only food-grade barrels to avoid any harsh chemical residue getting into your garden.
- Decorate your barrel. Some people like to paint it to match the color of their house, while others make it a colorful art piece.
- Drill a hole for the spigot about 3” above the bottom of the barrel. This deters the spigot from clogging due to sediment buildup over time.
- Add a washer and O-ring onto the spigot, then thread it into the hole. Caulk the area as well to ensure it is water-tight.
- Drill a hole about 3” from the top for an emergency overflow (you’d be surprised how quickly the barrel fills during a storm). Thread a male adapter opening into the hole.
- Elevate your barrel. Use cinder blocks or something similar to elevate your barrel. This creates room to place containers like watering cans underneath the spigot and to attach hoses. Since there is no pump, elevating the barrel increases the pressure and rate at which the water will flow from a hose.
- Determine how to attach your downspout. If you do not want the barrel placed directly under the downspout, a flexible extension will help. These allow you to have more freedom to choose where you position your barrel.
- Cut a hole in the lid. Measure the opening of your downspout or extension, and cut an appropriately-sized hole in the barrel lid. Some barrels come open-topped; in this case, you will need to cover the top with mesh or thinly-spaced chicken wire, and then cut the hole.
- Insert your downspout. It should sit about 1-2” below the level of the lid (above the level of the emergency overflow).
Congratulations! By following these instructions, you have successfully built and installed your rain barrel. Maintenance is easy; simply check regularly to ensure it is not leaking, and about once a year you should clean out any sediment that has built up at the bottom of the barrel.
For more fun and creative ideas to make your garden and landscaping beautiful, shop Big Earth Landscape Supply. From pottery to statuaries, river rock to polished glass – we have everything you need.