Sustainable Saturday - Suburban Gardening with Children: Rain Barrels

One of my goals for this summer is to reduce the "spike" in our water bill during the summer months.  This "spike" is primarily due to watering our garden.  We have a rain barrel installed at one of our downspouts which collects roughly 1/4 of the rain water off our roof.  Currently the rain barrel is connected to a soaker hose which is in the planting bed close to it.  Running the water from the rain barrel out to my garden will require burying a hose beneath the ground.  Should be an interesting venture and I hope that my efforts will pay off in that our water bill will remain relatively constant throughout the year.  

Want to know more about Rain Barrels? 

If you have not already, you should check out National Geographic's Green Guide.   You can sign up for the Green Guide's Monthly E-Newsletter which is the only way to receive this terrific publication.  They have an entire section on their site; Buying Guides. 

Interested in installing a rain barrel?  Check out their Rain Barrel Buying Guide.

What to Look For:

While rainwater may not always be safe to drink, it can be used for a variety of other applications—from watering your lawn and flower beds to washing cars or driveways. And depending on your state and local laws, you may be able to use rainwater for some household graywater uses, like toilets and showers.

A rain barrel is essentially a large tank with a spigot that sits under your home’s gutter downspout to harvest rainwater from your roof. You can make one for just a few dollars, or you can purchase a basic model for around $50 to $100. A more decorative model will cost upwards of $300.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
  • Safety: Rain barrels hold 50-plus gallons of water, so be sure the tank is both child- and animal-proof.
  • Handling overflow: Look for rain barrels with an overflow valve that kicks in when the barrel reaches capacity.
You can read the rest of the article here.

Rain Barrels have become more mainstream in recent years and can be purchased at a variety of retailers.  Be sure to check out options at Home DepotGeneration Green (Columbus, Ohio) and  Rain Brothers LLC (Columbus, Ohio)  just to name a few.  There are also lots of great online retailers such as Gardener's Supply.  

Photo Credit:  Photograph by Paul Thompson/Photolibrary

This post was originally published by Saving Family Green in May 2010.

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