The Wonderful World of Rain Barrels

Spring has sprung, at least in the northern hemisphere, and for many areas of the world it's time for rain and more rain.

Did you know you can take advantage of this right now by collecting water? Today we talk about rain barrels and why you NEED one (or more!).

Why Rain Barrels Are So Awesome

Rain is, well...water. (We'll bet you already knew that.) So why use a rain barrel when you can just hook your hose to the outdoor spigot and get all that you need? 

If you're eco-conscious, you're probably already aware that water is not an infinite resource. And for some, filtered, piped city water is a monthly expense.

But evaporated water does eventually fall back out of the sky. And if you're there to collect it, you can cash in on this natural resource.

How? Easy - with a rain barrel! Setting up a rain barrel means a surprising amount of additional water at your disposal...and it's free.

An "Untapped" Resource

Rain barrels capture water not only falling directly from the sky, but out of such outlets as storm drains.

If you'll be utilizing these, don't use this water as your drinking water. It may be contaminated. Instead, use it for washing, for watering your garden, and other non-ingestion purposes.

While you may not think much rain will fall into your barrel, you'll be surprised how quickly things fill up.

IMPORTANT: if you are collecting water for drinking or cooking, either boil the water and allow to cool before ingesting, or purchase a specialty rain barrel with a filter. These are available all over the internet, so have a look.

Purchasing Your Rain Barrel

There are a variety of rain barrel units made from all sorts of materials, and with as few or as many accessories as you may require.  Quick research on the Internet will give you a range of $30 to about $400 depending on what works for you. Here's a couple good ones from

RTS Home Accents 50-Gallon Rain Barrel (this is what my Mom uses, and it's been fantastic for five years now):

Good Ideas Nantucket Rain Barrel (You can put flowers on it too):

Good Ideas Rain Wizard Rain Barrel (for that whiskey barrel look!):

It may be necessary to alter your downspout system to accommodate having a rain barrel set up.  Much of this will depend upon the set-up of the rain barrel that you buy.  For example, you may be able to find rain barrels with spigots that allow you to use a hose, or systems of water collection involving three or more barrels. 

IMPORTANT: Whatever system you use, be sure to have a cover for EVERY rain barrel. Standing water not only attracts pests, it can be a hazard for children or pets.

Using rain barrels to collect and use water is not only eco-friendly, it will save you cash. It's one more action you can take toward organic gardening and a healthy, natural lifestyle and garden.

Image: Times Publishing Newspapers

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