Our foray into greener gardening has graduated to the level of rain barrels. While there are many websites that offer tips on building rain barrels, we purchased ours as a kit for $50 through a local high school whose ecology class built several to sell in the spirit of water preservation awareness.
The barrel arrived unassembled, in its bright blue glory, with the parts and instructions inside.
The instructions offered us two options: 1) Assemble it with the lid, and hook up the drainpipe to a downspout, or; 2) Omit the lid, and leave the barrel wide open in an area where roof runoff is strong. We chose the first option, although we went with the latter one night solely out of necessity, since we hadn't yet fully assembled our kit, and we were due for rain. The barrel was an impressive 1/3 full after just that night. Still, to prevent accidental drowning of animals and small children, we are more comfortable with the lid securely clamped to the barrel.
The lid aside, the biggest decision was where to put the barrel. Given its color, it seemed most at home next to our city-issued bright blue garbage can and recycling bins. While some rain barrels are landscape accents or are designed to camoflauge within gardens, there is no hiding our Big Blue baby. I was grateful to have a designated spot for all that cobalt plastic.
Assembly was super-easy--I let my husband do it! But even he conceded that the instructions were pretty fool-proof. He slipped the hose connector and run-off spout into their assigned, pre-cut holes. Then he attached the drainpipe to the lid, and then he fit the other end of the drainpipe to our downspout after cutting off about seven feet of the leader. And viola! We were ready to harvest some rain.
Since assembling it, we've have four days of steady rain, and our barrel is an easy 2/3 full. Once we have a dry spell, I'll be able to hook up our hose to the barrel's spigot and water my garden with the rain we've collected. (Note: Harvested water should only be used for watering non-edible plants, never drinking or bathing. There is some question as to the safety of watering food plants with runoff from asphalt roofs.) Not only is this ecologically sound, but it's extremely practical. Our only hose spigot is located on the side of the house, far away from the back yard and most of our gardens. We had prepared to drill into the foundation for a new spigot, but Big Blue by the back door will do the job instead.