Look to see what type of catchment it has and if it will suit your needs. If you have a guttering that you want to attach to, most commercial rain barrels are designed for that.
But, if you have a valley pitch in your roof that directs water to flow like Niagara Falls when it rains, you will need a different barrel. In that case, look for a barrel that has an open screened top, or a barrel that you can easily cut off the top.
And most important, where is the spigot located? If the spigot is in the middle of the barrel, look at all the water that is wasted! You can’t access it. The spigot needs to be located on the bottom of the barrel.
Installing Your Rain Barrel
You’ve chosen a barrel! Congratulations!! You can bask in your awesomeness for a minute. Done? Cool, now for the fun part.
Creating a Level Foundation
You need a level foundation for your barrel. Depending on the size, these things can weigh over 500 lbs when full and can be dangerous if you’re anywhere near when it tips over.
Elevate the Rain Barrel For Water Pressure
Once you’ve leveled the ground, you need to elevate the barrel for water pressure as well as easier access to the faucet. Again, for safety reasons don’t build it higher than your knee….uhh, that’s 2 feet if you’re Andre The Giant.
Make Sure Your Platform Is Stable
And make sure your platform is stable! You can stack 16” square pavers, or build something. There are lots of great ideas on YouTube.
Cutting the Downspout On Your Gutters
You will need to cut the downspout about 4- 6 inches above the barrel, AFTER you have leveled, built a platform and placed your barrel on top!
But fear not if you decided on a round barrel or you’ve cut it a little too high, just buy a flexi-downspout. A flexi-downspout is like an accordion and will allow you some room to work it out.
A Barrel Full
Ta Da! You are now the owner of a Rain Barrel. Don’t you feel like you can go out and conquer the world??? No? Well you should!
But before you go and do that, let me share a few more tips and tricks.
Hoses For Your Rain Barrel
The handiest item you can have is a hose quick connect. One end permanently screws onto your faucet, and the other onto your hose for a, wait for it…..quick connect.
Don’t you just love well thought out names for stuff? I keep a 20 ft hose to quickly connect my rain barrels to various beds in my backyard. Those beds have soaker hoses that are laid out like irrigation lines and stay in the beds, and I use a timer to tell me when to move it to the next bed.
Adding Mosquito Dunks To Protect Your Water
If your barrel is open at all, you will need to add mosquito dunks. These dunks contain BT which is a naturally occurring soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis.
While it doesn’t deter mosquitos it does kill their larvae. Cut each ring into quarters and use one quarter every month during the summer.
Two Final Tips
I personally stop collecting water in the winter because, being made of plastic, they are susceptible to cracking when the water freezes.
And my last tip is this, make sure you turn off the spigot when you’ve finished. There’s nothing worse than watching water pour out of your faucet during a good rain.
I’ll leave you with this: Don’t EVER drink the water in a barrel, or allow your pets to either. This water is running off your roof and gathering all the stuff from it.
But you can, and I have used it to:
- Water house plants
- Do laundry, and
- During the 2 days preceding the May 20, 2013 Moore tornado, flushed toilets and taken bucket baths.
Having the only flushable toilet made me Queen of the Block!
Please visit me at www.fadedbluebird.com for some great Green Cleaning recipes and more garden tips!
I’d like to hear from you!
Would you use a rain barrel on your homestead? Leave a comment below!