Rain is essential to all types of plants as it provides the water they need to grow. While it naturally hydrates your outdoor plants, many don’t properly utilize it for their indoor garden .
Luckily, it is easy to collect a large amount of water using a rain barrel. One of these can be positioned beneath the downspout of your eavestroughs to collect the rain that comes off of your roof.
The water collected can then be used for a variety of purposes and may even have a few benefits that you aren’t aware of. Let’s take a look at what adding a water barrel to conserve water can do for you and how it can help save the environment and money.
Benefits of Water Barrels
There are many benefits to using a water barrel to collect rainwater. First of all, it can save you a great deal of money. This is because even a small amount of rain deposits a lot more water than you may realize. In fact, your roof can collect hundreds of gallons of water for every inch of rain that falls.
With nothing to catch it, this water runs off the roof and onto the ground below, where it is soaked up. This much more water than any plants will need, so collecting this runoff won’t have an adverse effect on any nearby plants.
The rain you collect can then be used to water the flowers, vegetables, grass, and other plants growing in your yard or indoors. This can save you a great deal of money since you will no longer need to use the water you purchase for your home to keep those plants alive.
You can also use your collected rainwater for other purposes, like washing your car rather than taking it to a car wash. This saves even more of your hard-earned money and it is better for the environment.
The drinking water in your home also contains chemicals like fluoride and chlorine, which aren’t the best for plants. This is often why you’ll see advice to leave tap water out overnight or filter it before watering your plants. Using rainwater that you’ve collected in a barrel is a much safer option for your plants, both indoors and out.
Another benefit of using a water barrel is that it helps to conserve water during a drought. When it does finally rain, it prevents that water from going to waste. Storing it in a rain barrel lets you dole out the water as needed for your plants to keep them alive without using excessive water from the tap. If you live in a drought prone area then getting a water barrel can help stretch the benefit of each rain further.
Rain Barrel System Cost
Adding a rain barrel system can cost as much or as little as you like, depending on how much you have to spend. The eaves troughs should already be attached to your roof, including the downspout, so you only need to adapt this to fit your rain barrel.
As for the barrel itself, the price will depend on what type you buy. A commercial barrel can cost anywhere from $50 to $200. The price will depend on the size of the barrel and the materials it is made of, so you can pick which one works best for the size of your home and your budget. Some also come with added features like being collapsable which can make storage either.
You can even save a bit of money by using a castoff container, like a well-cleaned oil drum or a wooden barrel from a bottling plant. Many companies will sell these at reduced prices or even give them away if they have no use for them.
Other additions that you may need can include a downspout extension if this is too short to reach your barrel, an overflow fitting and hose for heavy rains that can’t fit in the barrel, and a spigot or two. You may also want to add a lid or mesh screen to the barrel to keep debris out of the water you collect.
You may also need some sort of platform to place the barrel on to keep it level. An old paving stone works well for this. Some minor landscaping may also be needed to even out the space for the water barrel, though this is likely something that you can do yourself with little effort.
Using a water barrel to conserve water is a great idea but there are some things to consider when installing one in your home. This will ensure that you are doing so properly and safely for your yard and those living in or around it.
One of the most important features to include in a water barrel is a cover of some kind. There are likely going to be animals, including pets and wildlife, wandering around your yard. You may also have small children exploring the area.
If a child or animal fell into the barrel, they likely wouldn’t be able to get out on their own. A lid or mesh screen can prevent this, letting nothing but water into the barrel. These types of covers also prevent leaves, twigs, and other debris from falling into the water and clogging the spouts and spigots. It will even prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the water.
Adding more than one spigot is also a handy idea. You can place one near the bottom for a hose attachment and another high enough to fit over a watering can. This gives you a few options for using the water, depending on what you need at any given time.
Having an overflow system near the top of the barrel prevents it from spilling over the top and going everywhere. You can position the overflow spout to send the water to a storm drain or even an area of your yard that needs more water than others. In any case, you want to make sure any overflowing water is moved away from the foundation of your hose or it can lead to water damage.
Be sure to keep an eye on the water in the barrel, especially if it sits for several days or more. Hot weather can lead to algae growth. Cleaning the barrel once in a while is also a good idea and can help prevent this type of buildup.
You can also add a cup of bleach to help clean the water and reduce contamination. The general recommendation is one ounce per 55 gallons of water, and then letting this sit for about a day to let it dissipate.
It should go without saying, but don’t drink the water as it is likely contaminated with all manner of nasty things. It’s great for your plants, but not so much for human consumption.
You should also look to avoid contact with the leafy parts of edible plants with water from your barrel. There is some evidence that certain metals and bacteria can be present in it. The studies done have shown the risk to be extremely low, and washing your harvest before eating it is still smart, but it’s best to be careful.
Using a water barrel in your garden is a great way to conserve water and help the environment. The cost and effort to set one up is low, and the benefits are numerous. If you’re looking for an easy way to conserve water give a water barrel a try.