We’ve gotten a lot of rain in Maryland lately and my poor neighbor who lives downhill from us has busy baling water out of his yard since “our” rainwater slides right into his yard. Not fair to him. So, to help him out and also to be green (which I’m very into :)), I installed a couple rain barrels to collect the huge amounts of rain water that comes off our roof. We’ll use the water to water our grass, flowers, and vegetable plants not to mention we can wash our cars with the water. What we CAN’T do is drink the water which is what my kids promptly did after the last rain we had even though I put this sticker on the barrel.
So, if my kids sprout a tail, or lose a few IQ points, it’s not because they weren’t warned. Okay, back to the barrel o’ fun. There are tons of installation videos on youtube.com that give you detailed instructions on how to install a barrel so I won’t go into great detail. The basics are that we got the barrel along with a rain diverter from Amazon. I then built a platform out of some bricks that the prior homeowner left in our shed then plopped the barrel on top after installing the water spigot that comes with the barrel. It’s really important to build a platform otherwise, you can’t get a watering can or bucket under the spigot to use the water.
Then I installed the rain diverter which was a little more difficult. The diverter sends rain water into the barrel until it gets full then it diverts the water down the downspout. Before installing the diverter, there are great comments on Amazon that give you tips on how to best install it which I really should have read BEFORE installing because it would have saved me some time and effort. But, let me tell you now the biggest piece of advice that I didn’t read until after I cut the downspout in the wrong spot is that if the barrel is the kind with a hole on the top (like mine) where the white tube goes, then you have to install the diverter above the barrel. If the barrel has a hole on the side then the diverter has to be even with the barrel.
I did mine the wrong way the first time which meant that I had to go to Home Depot, get another downspout, paint it the right color then re-install it where I cut the first one in the wrong place. Pain in the rear is what that was! But, at least I knew exactly how to install the second one. The trouble was worth it though because after the first hard rain, the barrel was almost completely full and I have to tell you I was way more excited than I probably should have been to see that thing fill up! I was out in the rain with an umbrella with a big grin on my face!
You can tell just a little where the new portion of the downspout is, but I figure over time it will get as dirty as the rest of the downspout and you won’t notice.
The barrel has an area where you can plant flowers on the top which is nice and is what I’ll do after we get back from vacation. The other barrel is in the backyard and since the barrels look like they work so far, I’m thinking of getting three more. The only downside to this little project is the price… The barrels are $140 a piece and the diverter is $43, but I’m hoping to save some money on my water bill which may (probably way down the road) offset the cost. The warm fuzzies that I get from being so green is priceless though!