We read about rain barrels in the past and thought it would be a great idea for our garden. It’s essentially a large barrel that you attach to your gutters and will hold the rainwater that would otherwise flood your yard and seep into the ground while it is over-saturated. Then, you can use the water in the barrel to water your garden or yard on days when it does not rain.
However, a quick search online left us disillusioned about getting a barrel. They’re pretty expensive for a decent barrel.
Then, after looking at our water bills from last summer, we decided to commit. We drove to a local nursery and asked if they carried these barrels. They did not. But, they did let us in on a well-kept secret. Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), our local waste and storm water government division, is selling rain barrelsfrom their Nature Center for really cheap!
I was excited, called, and picked one up the following Monday. It rained all Monday thru Wednesday, and I didn’t have any time to get outside and install the rain barrel. But, come Thursday, I used my evening to install this barrel. Here are some before and after pictures for you:
Lucy was really excited to be able to help out in the process.
Next, we’re going to add some flowers to the south (left) of the barrel and our house to add some landscaping, make it easier to mow around, and to hide the barrel. Stephanie has some ideas with some flowering plans, so we’ll have to keep you updated before it all happens.
And as you can probably tell from the before (3/9/09) and after (4/16/09) pictures, the blackberry bushes are coming in nicely. I hope the barrel’s shade doesn’t mess with that one bush. Oh well, the free water is going to be worth it.
Oh, and for those of you that are wondering how much water we’ll be able to keep in our barrel… the barrel holds 58 gallons. With the back half of our roof (I’m estimating 300 square feet), and 1″ of rainfall, the barrel will receive 260 gallons of water. Luckily, there is an overflow valve that points away from the house. So, we could get a few more and daisy chain them. I have a feeling that would be overkill.
Hey Florida family: you should consider doing this. It rains every day down there and it seems like every spring and summer there is some sort of “water shortage.” Imagine if you could harness the runoff from the little bits of rain you do get to keep your flowers and vegetables fresh! I know most Floridians don’t have gutters, but if you did… it would work well!