If you’ve never seen one, or wondered what they are, a rain barrel is simply a container you can use to collect rain water. Typically, they’re used for watering gardens and plants in and around decks and patios and offer a convenient way to save water (and money) while keeping your flowers, shrubs, and trees healthy and hydrated.
There are many types available to buy – just a quick search online offers dozens of different sizes and shapes to choose from. For the most part, the containers are closed with small openings to accommodate a downspout (to fill the barrel) and a garden hose (to empty it), as pictured above. The cost of a rain barrel will vary depending on the size and material. Standard green or black plastic barrels aren’t terribly expensive at all, but they’re not fancy … if you’re concerned about aesthetics, you might check different garden centers around town for more decorative options. Regardless of size and color options, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for and installing a rain barrel:
• Make sure the opening isn’t too large … you don’t want any debris getting in the way and blocking your downspouts. You might want to fit a screen over the top to keep out debris from entering the barrel.
• Mosquito prevention is critical! Make sure you keep any connections tight to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the stagnant water.
• Make sure the barrel is easy to empty. If you think mosquitoes and/or algae is growing inside, you’ll want to be able to quickly (and easily) drain the container.
BENEFITS OF USING A RAIN BARREL
1. Save money
As you probably already know, lush lawns and gardens require a LOT of water … especially during the summer months. Sprinkler systems can be expensive, so if you have a large enough container, you can use it to water your lawn and save a little money on your water bill. And with all the rain we’ve experienced lately, there’s no better time to get one! Install it during this rainy spring we’re having, and you’ll have a ton of water ready to use well into June and July.
2. Keep plants and soil healthy
Tap water in most cities contains inorganic ions such as fluoride which can accumulate in the soil over time and harm your plant roots as well as microorganisms in the soil. Rainwater can help to reduce the build up of these contaminants over time, leaving your plants a little healthier in the process.
3. Help reduce soil erosion
Splash erosion can easily jeopardize your landscaping efforts (not to mention make a muddy mess!), but you can easily solve the problem with a rain barrel. Because the downspout is directed into the barrel itself, you can stop those annoying puddles from forming in your garden beds and landscaping after heavy rains.
4. Rain barrels provide water reserves
Remember 2012? It was the hottest summer on record, and our lawns suffered! Hopefully it won’t get that hot again anytime soon, but it’s always nice to have some extra water on hand to keep your plants healthy. A rain barrel is far less expensive than having to replace a garden full of dead plants!
5. Rainwater promotes healthy plant growth
Using rainwater for irrigation allows plants to develop deep roots which is very helpful in dry seasons. This is because it is highly oxygenated and it helps in diluting ions and contaminants present in the soil. Even if you live in places where the soil has a lot of salt, you will always enjoy healthy plant growth in your backyard.
If you’ve been thinking about getting a rain barrel, now is the perfect time. We couldn’t recommend them enough! As always, if you have any questions about your lawn and garden or the services we offer, we’d be happy to help! Feel free to post a comment below, or give us a shout at (913) 788-6089.