Rain barrels are an excellent way to conserve and reuse rain water. This system is designed to capture rain water that runs off your roof. The barrel is connected to a water spout on the side of your house and can usually hold around fifty to eighty gallons.
Water that normally flows off your roof during a rain can be collected and saved. Then it can be used to water your garden during dry spells. This helps save the environment and also saves money on your water bill. If heavy rainfalls cause lowland flooding in areas around your home, this would be a good way to help reduce the minor yard floods which can damage lawns and gardens.
Care needs to be taken when storing the water. Be sure the container is sealed well and has a screen to prevent mosquitos from getting in the container and laying eggs. You will also need to keep an eye out for algae that could sprout and grow over time. Wash the barrel out occasionally, and try to use the water as soon as possible to help reduce the chances of algae growth and mosquitos. Periodically check to make sure all closures are tight so mosquitos can’t get in.
Many home improvement stores carry rain barrels, with different styles and sizes available. Some have planters on top for flowers. For the DIYers, there are rain barrel making kits available, so you can make any container into a rain barrel. Some businesses sell, or even better, give away, their used food grade barrels instead of tossing them into the landfill. Call and check with local businesses in your area to see if they have barrels they would give away. While these barrels are usually blue or white plastic, they can be decorated and painted however you choose. You could also build a wooden fence or planter to place the barrel behind. A quick online search will bring up multiple tutorials explaining the rain barrel making process.
Check with your local community college too. Many community colleges offer rain barrel making classes, and every student leaves with a completed rain barrel, and the knowledge on how to make more.
Rain barrels are a great way to conserve water and can make a great afternoon DIY project!