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Saving Money By Using Rain Barrels

It's time for me to start planning my gardens. I will be planting a larger vegetable garden this year and then adding to my flower beds. One thing I learned last year was watering everything during a dry season out here can become expensive.

Although I had one rain barrel by my vegetable garden I plan to have a couple of more to water my flower gardens.

Adding a rain barrel is an inexpensive and effortless way to capture mineral- and chlorine-free water for watering lawns, yards, and gardens, as well as washing cars or rinsing windows. By harnessing what's literally raining from the sky, you'll not only notice a marked dip in water costs, but also a reduction in stormwater runoff, which in turn helps prevent erosion and flooding. Pop a screen on top of your barrel to keep out insects, debris, and bird missiles, and make frequent use of your water supply to keep it moving and aerated.

Rain barrels can collect water from roof gutters and downspouts, and some come with hose attachments for low-pressure watering in the yard and gardens. More and more counties and watershed districts are encouraging homeowners to use rain barrels because they collect roof runoff and store it for later use in lawn and garden watering, thus preventing stormwater runoff and reducing the amount of ground water used for lawn care.

How does it work? You can purchase a rain barrel at many major lawn and garden centers; many on-line retailers also carry a variety of rain barrels. You can expect to pay $80-150 for a 50-75 gallon barrel and accessories. Not very frugal in my opinion. Or you can build your own rain barrel out of a 55 gallon drum or trashcan much cheaper. You can also link rain barrels in series to store even more rainwater.

How much rain does it take to fill my rain barrel? Not as much as you think. It is easy to calculate how much rainwater your roof generates. The constant to remember is: 1" of rain will produce 625 gallons of runoff from a 1000 square foot roof, or 625 gallons per 1000 square feet.

Say you want to install a rain barrel to catch runoff from half the roof of your double garage. Let's say that eave and downspout catches runoff from 250 square feet of roof. Multiply 250 square feet by 625 gallons and divide by 1000 = 156.25 gallons produced from a 1" rain. A 1/2" rain will fill up your 75 gallon rain barrel.

That is 75 gallons of FREE water in one barrel after a moderate rain fall. I'm now on the hunt for some free barrels. I will call a couple of restaurants and schools and see if I can score 2 free barrels.

Do any of you utilize rain barrels? I would love to hear from you.


  1. I have wanted rain barrells for years. Thanks for the pictures. I worry about mosquito's living in the water though. Is this ever a problem for you?

  2. I've read about this a few times and I think it's a great idea. I haven't done it yet, though. :(

  3. That is so NEAT... Had to show my DH... interesting, thanks for sharing.

  4. To prevent mosquitos there are a couple of options. One you can use a mosquito dunk or granules. Another is be sure to use all the water every 21 days. A few people have told me that they dont have problems with mosquitos with their rain barrel with lids. The down spout fits snugly through a hole in the lid. Mine doesnt have a lid, I be sure to use it all about every 21-25 days. I've also used mosquito dunks that I found on clearance (otherwise, they are kind of expensive).

  5. I have a flower garden and I've been meaning to put one of these in for two years. I swear this is the year I'm going to do it. They are a great way to save money while also doing something good for the environment.

  6. a great rain can be found at www.aquabarrel.com and if you already have a barrel they have DIY kits too ;-)

  7. I've been reading a lot of forums lately on rain barrels. Another option to the mosquito issue I've read about is putting either goldfish or guppies in the barrel. They take care of the larvae as soon as they hatch. Just don't put tap water in the barrel since the chlorine will kill them.

  8. if you are going to place fish in your barrel - keep in mind the color of the barrel (black ones get very hot) and if it is in shade. More important is the overall design of the barrel - fish will not work well in the rain barrel found at http://www.aquabarrel.com as the over flow port is correctly sized to equal the input of the downspout - you'd flush the little guys right out of there :-(