Capturing and storing rainwater for a dry, sunny day has many benefits, and it’s easy and inexpensive to do. Installing a rain barrel is one of the most common methods, and will provide you with a ready supply of water for your garden and lawn, and save on your utility bill.
One of the less known benefits of rain barrels is that they can help reduce contaminants from entering local waterways. A large rush of rainwater during heavy rainfall that washes across lawns and driveways can pick up nutrients, such as pet waste or fertilizer, sediments, and other contaminants. These are carried into your lake, if you have a waterfront property, or through the storm water system to the nearest river or lake. Collecting water in a rain barrel reduces that rush of water across your property.
With the barrel elevated, water easily flows out of the hose near the bottom into the watering can. Nearby gardens and the lawn can also be watered through this hose.
Here are a few tips for selecting and maintaining a rain barrel:
- Select a barrel that can collect an adequate amount of water for your lawn or garden. There are many different styles and shapes that are available. Choose one that complements your backyard.
- Consider using more than one if you have a lot of roof area. Note that some downspouts may drain a larger roof area than others, so you may wish to place a larger barrel at one that drains a larger area.
- The downspout will require shortening so that the water can be redirected to the top of the barrel.
- Elevate the barrel so that you can use gravity to transfer water to your garden and lawn from a hose near the bottom of the barrel. Most rain barrels also come with an overflow hose near the top, which can also be directed back to the lawn or a nearby garden.
- Ensure that your rain barrel has a cover and a tight connection where water enters the barrel to prevent mosquito breeding and eliminate debris (leaves, twigs, and sediment) that can clog the drain. Most manufactured barrels include this feature.
- Keep your eavestroughs and downspouts clear of leaves and debris.
For more detailed information and tips, including installation and how-to videos for rain barrels, visit rainbarrel.ca/instructions.
For a reduced cost of only $60, Kawartha Conservation has a limited number of rain barrels available in slate gray or terracotta. They are 22 inches wide and 40 inches tall, and can hold 55 gallons (220 litres). Each comes with a top filter basket, a top-side overflow, a barrel to barrel connector, an overflow hose, and a bottom-side spigot with garden hose thread.