Every garden needs water to survive. However, during the summer, many homes with gardens dedicate up to 40 percent of their household water just for lawn maintenance.
Not only can this get expensive but it is also not an environmentally sustainable way of tending to your garden.
One of the easiest ways to keep your garden flourishing while also keeping your water bill low is by using a rain barrel. These are containers that collect rainwater using a downspout coming from your roof or gutter, directed into the barrel through a diverter. Rainwater is then filtered through a screen on top of the barrel so there is no debris mixed into it.
Rain barrels can be constructed in a variety of ways but they serve the same purpose of collecting rainwater to decrease your household’s impact on local waterways and to become a good steward of the local watershed.
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I placed the can directly under my gutter and I cut a piece of landscape cloth to cover it, I used a couple of bungee cords to hold the cloth in place – and that’s it – it is almost always full!
The rain is filtered through the cloth and keeps mosquitoes from laying eggs in it, the bungee cord holds the cloth in place. I remove the cloth and fill my watering can and replace the cloth.
My setup doesn’t quite work for an entire yard but so far its worked for the seedlings I grew inside under grow lights as well as all the container plants on my porch.
Here’s another method you can use to make one for your home:
Step 1: Choose a Barrel
Plastic rain barrels can be purchased in gardening and home improvement stores. However, you can also use recycled materials for the fraction of the cost of a new one.
You can use food-safe shipping barrels with a storage capacity of 55 gallons to prevent contaminants from leaching into your garden beds.
Alternatively, you can also use second-hand wooden barrels if you don’t want to use plastic.
Step 2: Create a Top Hole
Using a skimmer basket as a guide, trace a circle and pre-drill a small hole using 1″ spade bit making sure to drill inside the line. Use a jigsaw to cut out a hole using the inside line as a guide.
Step 3: Prepare a Filtering Basket
Cut a piece of fiberglass window screen to fit the skimmer basket. Affix the screen to the lip of basket using caulk or plumbing sealant. Allow several hours to dry and place on the top hole.
Step 4: Make a Lower Drain
Mark holes at least two inches from the bottom of the barrel. Use a 1″ drill bit to drill hole. Screw a plastic faucet into hole and use utility knife, as needed, to increase hole size.
Remove the faucet, wrap threads in Teflon tape, caulk threads, replace the faucet. Caulk the area where faucet and barrel meet to ensure no leakage.
Step 5: Make Upper Drain
Mark holes at least two inches from the top of the barrel. Use a 1″ drill bit to drill hole. Screw plastic faucet into the hole and use a utility knife as needed to alter hole. Wrap 3⁄4″ coupling threads in Teflon tape and caulk and screw onto faucet inside the barrel.
Step 6: Attach Hoses
Cut 2′ section of hose and then push each end of the hose into a hose coupler and tighten screws. Screw 3′ section onto top outflow faucet and 2″ section to bottom the faucet. Trace a hole for the basket.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Build a base using cinder blocks to elevate the rain barrel. Adjust downspout to flow into the rain barrel. Always keep the overflow valve open.
Tips for Using Rain Barrels
- Cover the top basket with the screen, and make sure that all other openings are secured to prevent mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects from entering the barrel
- Make sure your barrel is clean and free of chemicals before using
- Disconnect the barrel from the downspout during winter months to avoid the formation of damaging ice
- During severe storms, it may be necessary to open both valves to prevent overflow.
Do you have a rain barrel? How did you make yours? Share with us in the comments below.
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