How To Use A Rain Barrel To Water Garden

Water doesn’t just help seeds sprout and grow, but it also enables adult plants to sip nutrients through dissolved minerals in the ground. Water, either from rainfall, a rain barrel or a garden hose, will keep your garden in good condition.
Many homeowners use tap water for their gardens; however, the drawback of that is it’s not freely given. But if you are fortunate enough to reside in a country where it rains, you can offset your water expenses by adopting a rainwater harvesting system in your garden as a substitute.
Rainwater harvesting is an old and proven way of using rainwater for individuals and ecosystems in a practical and time-saving way. What’s more, it’s very manageable. You can collect rainwater from rooftops and divert it to a pond, cistern, deep well, or a container with a drip irrigation system so that it flows directly to your yard and lawn. The only matter of contention here is how to collect rainfall from your roof. A great way to achieve this is to make or buy a rain barrel. A rain barrel catches rainwater which can then be utilized in watering a garden.

The Advantages of Using Rainwater

  1. Rainwater is pure water. It’s generally purer than tap water, city water, or well. Rain has fewer amounts or treatment chemicals, salts, minerals, or pharmaceuticals that are usually present in tap water. As time goes by, chemicals and salts are accumulated in the soil and these remnants are harsh on plants. This impact is prominent in potted plants where the build-up is more evident.
  2. Stored water from your rooftop has traces of organic material. The rainwater has been exposed to whatever is on your roof, like manures of birds. A rain barrel stores valuable biological particles to keep the water viable. These materials are helpful in the plant’s growth as it’s like a modest administration of fertilizer each time you water.
  3. Rain contains macro-nutrients, too. Rainwater contains nitrogen in the form of ammonium, and nitrates. Since nitrogen is among the top nutrient elements responsible for the health and maturation of the plant, receiving nitrates from rainwater can help you grow your greenery faster than ever. Vegetables also need nitrogen to synthesize enzymes, vitamins, chlorophyll, amino acids, and proteins.
  4. Plus, as far as we’re aware, rainwater is a bit acidic with a pH scale of about 7. A pH of 6.5 is just about right for most home gardens. But, plants can still grow with the given figure of rain barrel water. The acidity in rainwater doesn’t immediately affect your lawn, but the symbiosis of this acidity with the soil and its nutrient availability is where the mystery occurs. Collected rainfall can be used to wash the chemicals in the soil, taking soil to the absolute pH range.
  5. With rain barrels or a rainwater irrigation system, you can efficiently collect rainwater that you can utilize not just for watering the garden but also in the household errands, such as cleaning the garage. By using the ready rainwater in the most profitable means, you are conserving water and it’s an effort closer to a sustainable and eco-friendly way of living.
  6. Rainwater harvesting will help people save on their water bills and economize for the whole neighbourhood. The expense to supply mains and general water services can be lowered significantly when numerous individuals in a neighbourhood use rainwater. Collecting rainwater can also lessen reliance on municipal sources, suppose the water becomes tainted. Rainwater can be employed as the main water source or an alternative source if necessary.

What Is A Rain Barrel & How Does It Work?

A barrel of water stands amidst weeds on a green field.
A rainwater harvesting system can be as easy as collecting rainfall in a rain barrel. A rain barrel is a user-friendly mechanism that can readily be built at home. Rain barrels are created for capturing rainwater as it surges from or through the roof of your house, shed, or garage. When rain falls on your roof, it’s directed onto your gutters and downspouts. Then the water will sit in the barrel until it’s ready to be used.

How Much Rainwater Can You Collect?

This is among the first queries raised by those thinking of making a rain barrel system for their garden. Generally, one rain barrel will fill in just minutes in average rainfall. A general measure in the estimating of rain barrels is that an inch of rainfall on a 1,000 square foot roof will produce around 600 gallons.

Understand These Few Things Before Making & Installing Your Rain Barrels

  • The type of roofing materials harnessed can cause a change in the water quality. Nevertheless, most roofing materials are applicable for collecting rainwater. Although a metal roof has the maximum collection efficiency, most materials are fine. You can also use a shingle roof, though you may need to place a filter on it to remove any asphalt fragments that may flake. Pay extra attention when collecting rainwater from roofs with old shingles as there can be asbestos and other toxic wastes that can flow into your water.
  • It’s necessary to ensure the water quality in your rain barrel. A debris screen between the water inlet and roof drain pipe will inhibit any waste from seeping into your barrel. It will also prevent small animals from plunging. Additionally, it’s vital to have a way of obstructing mosquitoes since they propagate in water.
  • There are regulations in some cities that forbid or delimit homeowners from collecting rainwater from their own roofs. There are homeowners’ associations that may even have ordinances working that ban rain barrels. You have to review within your location before you make a rain barrel or else a notice might find its way to your door.

Installing A Rain Barrel: Step-By-Step

A garden with a water fountain and weeds.

Choosing A Rain Barrel

When deciding on a rain barrel, consider your irrigation conditions and any space limitations before you choose a size. Your option should also be based on where you intend to put the rain barrels and the amount of rainwater you expect to harvest.
One effective way to know how much your rain barrel water must harvest to meet your needs is to check last year’s water bills. You must be able to notice the months of increase and the amount of additional water you used during the summer and spring seasons. Map out your water storage correspondingly.
There are some products you should try to get as the rainwater you intend on collecting is draining from your roof:

Make Your Own Rain Barrel

When recycling an old container as a rain barrel, selections consists of old wooden, metal, or plastic barrels, trash cans or recycling bins, and anything that can harbour water efficiently. Lighter-coloured barrels aren’t urged since they don’t block the sun. This leads to algae growth and a patent foul odour.
If you choose the refined look of factory-made rain barrels, numerous choices are available for purchase at a local garden or home centre, or online.
When you purchase a rain barrel kit, you don’t need to do any drilling. The holes are already arranged and the kit has the accessories you mostly need for the task. And if not, the manufacturers must also sell extra attachments to make installation more manageable.

Look For A Convenient Location

If you plan to utilize accumulated water in irrigating a specific site of your property, it’s important to consider the location your rain barrels will be positioned based on where you will require water.
You may choose to place the rain barrel near your vegetable patch or adjacent to flowers that require loads of water. Most homeowners position them underneath the downspout from the gutter closest to their garden. Make sure to keep your rain barrels out of direct sunlight and see to it that your rain barrel will be on a level ground that can hold the weight of a full barrel which can be as heavy as 300 lbs.

Elevate The Rain Barrel

Most homeowners opt for an elevated surface as the gravity provides pressure through a hose and makes for an easier water flow. To elevate your barrel, you need to ensure that whatever you employ to raise it is durable enough to support the barrel. In case you would want to use a watering can or need more water pressure from the barrel, then you must elevate it to no less than 24″ from the ground. If you’re seeking a simple foundation that can support the weight, try cinder blocks.

Remove The Downspout & Insert The Diverter

Double-check that no heating system or other electrical cables are running through the downspout before cutting or drilling on it.
Place the downspout diverter atop of the barrel, aimed at the screen opening and next to the downspout to know where to cut. Make sure that the diverter is not too high or too low. Downspout diverters automatically send the rainwater through the downspout to your barrel. You should follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions for the diverter.
Mark your measurement. Then cut the downspout with a saw. Place the diverter in the middle, connecting the downspout.
Using a diverter prevents an overflow on the part of the barrel. A rain barrel diverter works not only to direct water to your container but also redirects water back down the standard path of the gutter to your downspout when your rain barrel fills up.

Add Flexible Tubing

Drill a small hole on your barrel, then place the hose grommet. Attach the tubing from the bottom of the diverter and to the side back of the rain barrel with the hose grommet. Make sure there’s no kink and the hose is not dangling or rising above the diverter for good water flow.

Install The Spigot

Place the spigot on a smooth regular surface, thus avoiding bumps for a watertight seal. Installing the spigot 3–5 inches from the base is the ideal height. This is slightly above the curve of the barrel’s bottom edge along the flat face. Don’t place it too high since you won’t be able to get the water below it without tilting the container. The little space below the spigot makes allowances for sediment so make sure you’ll be able to drain and clean the water without blocking the spigot.
Begin by drilling a hole in your barrel. Choose a size that is a bit smaller than your spigot. Place the washer on your spigot and add some caulk, just to ensure that you don’t produce a leak there. Exert some force to screw the spigot into the barrel.

No-Gutter Options

If your house doesn’t have gutters, you can still send rainwater into your barrel. While it’s somewhat subnormal, one method is to position your barrel along the roof or drip line. This approach produces greater results when you have two sections of a roof that connect, funnelling drainage downward into a single channel. An alternative is to use rain chains that hang from the roofline and towards the barrel. That allows water to stick to its surface while gravity pulls it downward.

If You Decide To Have 2 or More Barrels

When you decide to install more than one barrel, it is most proper to link them at the bottom so that you get the water out at once as a system. On the other hand, you’ll want a spigot on every barrel if you link them at the top to drain out all of them. To make it easier and lessen the number of holes drilled, the connections must be on the front of every barrel.

Additional Tip For Proper Overflow

Check your rain barrel periodically for overflow. If you’ll be on vacation for a prolonged time, a rainstorm could lead to barrel overflow which could cause wear and tear to the infrastructure of your house or other matters. To prevent this from happening, detach the diverter from the downspout, insert the section of the downspout that you cut earlier, and cover the screen on top of the barrel.

Irrigating With Stored Rain Barrel Water

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Irrigating your garden with rain barrel water is very straightforward; you can use a garden hose or even a watering can. If you choose to use a hose, you must have your barrel positioned higher than the site you need to drench so gravity can pull the water. If you prefer a can, just remove the lid and dip it right in.

Drip Irrigation System

Combining the rain barrel system with a drip irrigation system conserves a precious natural resource and promotes healthier plants than many public water supplies provide. You can use any old hose or a soaker hose that reaches from barrel to garden. Then, position individual emitters at the base of every plant, granting accurate control over where water is released from the drip line. All bubbler emitters can also be changed for flow to accommodate the water requirements of particular plants.
Always use a fine-mesh filter with any drip irrigation system to prevent emitters from clogging.

Keep These Restrictions In Mind

The water gathered in rain barrels is not appropriate for human consumption. Please ensure that kids and pets do not drink water from your rain barrel as it contains fecal contamination from roofs or gutters. Roofing materials may also have heavy metals and chemical pollutants that can be detrimental to ingest.
There are recent studies that state that harvested rainwater could be used to water your vegetables, though it has minimal risk and special care must be carried out. But, due to the lack of research information, many experts still advise not to use water collected in a rain barrel for watering vegetable gardens.

Do Rain Barrels Need To Be Cleaned?

Even though you follow all the safety measures, garbage can still penetrate and access your barrel. Likewise, some algae can start forming, albeit your barrel is opaque. While not all algae will damage your water, if there is a lot of it, you may start to have problems with clogs in the tubings and even stinky water.
It’s advised that your rain barrels are drained and cleaned per annum, ideally at the end of summer before the winter rains freeze solid it. This will guarantee a clean vessel of rainwater for several years.
Here are the steps:
If you guarantee that the water inlet remains clean and free from waste, you may not need to wash and scrub your rain barrels for a few years!

Winter Maintenance

It’s critical to detach your rain barrel when fall arrives as frost arrives in the evening and early morning. Your barrel may break when the water freezes when the temperature reaches the freezing point for a long period. Drain all the water and leave the spigot open. Detach the hose attached from the diverter to the rain barrel. The diverter must also be removed from the downspout and reconnect any parts of your downspout that you may have cut off to ensure the late-season water runs from the base of your house. Store your barrel upside-down in the garage or shed or garage.

Wrap Up

Making and assembling your own rain barrel water harvesting system can be as challenging or as manageable as you wish it to be. The application of a proper rainwater harvesting mechanism can make the usage of rainwater as a beneficial and, in numerous circumstances, vital water resource.

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