Last month, I installed a rain barrel on the side of my home. For those unfamiliar, rain barrels collect and store rainwater from rooftops to use later for watering plants and gardens. Water collected in a rain barrel would normally pour off your roof directly or flow through roof gutter downspouts and become stormwater runoff. Depending on your yard, this runoff can travel onto paved surfaces and eventually into a storm drain.
While you might think it would be difficult to install a rain barrel, it is quite the opposite. Once I had the materials, I was done in less than an hour. While you can purchase the parts for the rain barrel and construct your own, I purchased mine already made from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $55. This is a great deal considering most stores sell these for anywhere between $70-$100.
Once you have the rain barrel, you are all set to create stand for it to sit atop. The stand is important so that you are able to place a water bucket or attach a hose beneath the rain barrel. I constructed mine with some concrete blocks and a bag of pebble size rocks.Once the base is completed, just set the rain barrel on top. No need to worry about heavy winds knocking it over once you get some rain in there.
The last order of business is to attach the gutter system to the barrel. Instead of buying more aluminum guttering, I purchased one plastic flexible downspout which I was able to attach between the existing downspout and the rain barrel.
There is one last piece of advice that I have to offer: make sure the overflow from the rain barrel drains properly away from your home. You would be surprised how quickly a 55-gallon rain barrel can fill up during a heavy storm. If the overflow goes into the ground next to your home, you will eventually have some serious water problems in your basement. The rain barrel I purchased form ReStore came complete with a 4 foot flexible hose located near the top of the barrel to divert overflow water. I chose to connect this hose to an already existing underground pipe leading to the sewer lateral.
The benefits if using a rain barrel include:
- Rain barrels conserve water and help lower costs (a rain barrel can save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months).
- Rain barrels reduce water pollution by reducing stormwater runoff, which can contain pollutants like sediment, oil, grease, bacteria and nutrients.
- Rain barrels are inexpensive and easy to build and install.
- Rain barrels can also be arranged to slowly release the collected rainfall to areas that can soak up the water, reducing stormwater runoff and increasing groundwater recharge.