Rain Barrels: The What, Where, When, Why and How?

A Rain Barrel from Plow+hearth

Image Courtesy of Plow+Hearth


What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams.

Usually a rain barrel is composed of a 55 gallon drum, a vinyl hose, PVC couplings, a screen grate to keep debris and insects out, and other off-the-shelf items, a rain barrel is relatively simple and inexpensive to construct and can sit conveniently under any residential gutter down spout. Put very simply, a rain barrel catches water that is usually lost so that you can use that water for plants and grass.

Why use one?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 40% of household water is used on lawn and yard watering. A rain barrel will save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months. Beyond the obvious cost savings on your water bill, a rain barrel also provides water that is better for your landscaping. According to JDNews from North Carolina, “Salt is not good for your plants. Salt will start to build up in the soil and make it harder for plants to grow and it becomes harder for the plants to take the moisture out of the soil. There is very little salt in rainwater.”  In addition, water in South Florida can contain high levels of chlorine and/ or limestone which can damage your plants and, in the case of the chlorine, damage fish and wildlife as part of the run off.

Where do I get one?

You can make one yourself quite simply. But, if you’re not feeling handy, there are many places selling them, both locally and online, including:

•      Ace Hardware: 866-290-5334

•      Gaiam produces the Great American Rain Barrel, 877-989-6321

•      Plow & Hearth: 800-494-7544

•      Rain Barrel Source: 866-912-9719

How do I install it?

The rain barrel is quite simple to install, the more important part of installation is ensuring the water has a run off spot in case the barrel fills up.

1. Place the barrel on a secure flat surface (a concrete slab rather than soil) next to your gutter run off. You may need to install or remove a piece of piping in case the spout doesn’t run off directly above the barrel. Here are instructions for doing just that: http://bit.ly/PALMbarrel

2. Make sure the spout sits directly above the barrel.

3. Finish the installation by diverting the run off away from your house. This is most important as the run off could damage your foundations if it’s a constant source of water sitting in one spot. Here is a video on how to do just that: http://bit.ly/PALMbarrel2

When should I use it?

In South Florida, we can use rain barrels almost all year round. You will need to take care that the barrel doesn’t freeze and crack in truly cold times, but this is South Florida, so that might be only one or two days a year! Considering installation is simple, cost to purchase is minimal and the fact that a rain barrel can preserve your lawn with no additional cost to you year round AND help to save our environment, a rain barrel is a worthwhile investment and one we fully recommend.

Have any questions? Our landscape experts love to show off!
Ask us a landscaping question, if we can’t answer it, we’ll track down the answer.

Palm Atlantic Landscape Maintenance is currently revamping their website. Please contact us at (954) 938-1999

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Comments

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    Appreciate it

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