As I sit here after watching the rain come down in sheets after weeks of drought I think of how useful this rain could be in just a few days. Collecting rainwater is nothing new, but it can be a challenge if you have never installed a rain barrel before.
Here I’ll help you find a good place to locate your rain barrel, prepare a sturdy base and connect it to your downspouts to collect all that rain water that would otherwise flood your garden.
First, if you are going to collect all the rainwater you can you must determine how many rain barrels you need. Many people will opt for only 1 to water their container plants and foundation plantings. If you are determined to collect all the rainwater that falls on your roof here use this formula to determine how many gallons of rain runoff you can expect from a storm.
1 inch of rainfall x 1000 square foot section of roof = 623 gallons of rain. My roof is 2,500 square feet so in a storm that produces 1″ of rain about 1,500 gallons of rain will fall on my roof. (2,500 sqft x 623 gallons ÷ 1000 sqft = 1557.5 gallons) That, of course if if every drop of rain that fell on my roof would be collected. There will be a bit of rain that falls on your roof that does not make it in to your rain barrel. A fair estimate is that you are able to collect only about 70% of that rain that falls on your roof. That would mean for my roof I would need to be able to collect 1,100 gallons of rain. (1557.5 gallons x 70% = 1090.25 gallons) Most rain barrels commercially available can hold 50 – 75 gallons of rainwater. In order to collect all the rain that falls on my roof I’d need 14 rain barrels. I really don’t have space for 14 rain barrels, but I do have 5 (2 on the downspouts of each of the larger sections of my roof and 1 on the smaller). This keeps me in enough water to keep my full sun, sandy soil plants from getting parched.
Once you decide how many rain barrels you are going to be installing (it really is easy to start with just one) you need to determine where you are going to place your rain barrel. It should be somewhere close to your downspout, but with flexible tubing you have some ability to move it a few feet away. Wherever you are placing your rain barrel you need to make a firm foundation. 1 gallon of water weighs a little over 8 pounds so your rain barrel when full can weigh more than 500 pounds! The average size for a rain barrel foundation is 16″, yours could be larger or smaller depending on the style of your barrel. The best foundation for a rain barrel is a concrete pad. If you can not place a concrete pad where you are going to place your rain barrel you could dig down 2-3 inches into the soil, creating a perfectly level base. You can then add 2″ of crushed gravel to help maintain a firm base. You could place your rain barrel directly on the gravel, or because rain barrels work on a gravity feed, you could raise your barrel up a little. Concrete blocks and deck piers make good, stable platforms to raise the height of your rain barrel. Just be careful not to raise the rain barrel up too high or you could find it unstable.
After you have created a firm foundation for your rain barrel it is time to mark your downspout. Put your rain barrel in its forever home then mark the placement of your diverter on your downspout. Cut the downspout with a hacksaw and install according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A downspout diverter with a filter will help prevent clogs in your line from leaves and other debris.
Connect the hose from the downspout diverter to the intake port of your water barrel. If you have more than one barrel make sure you connect them together according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Finally, hook your hose and watering nozzle up to your rain barrel and after the next rain you are ready to keep your plants watered during the dry days that are sure to come.
Rain barrels are a great addition to your garden, and come in so many styles you are sure to find one that will fit seamlessly into your garden decor. Visit Home and Garden Welcome for your rain barrel today.