Rain Barrels: Where Does All Your Water Go?

Hello garden community! Did you know, the average rainfall in the United States is about 15-25 inches per state a year. That’s a lot of rain! Now, let’s think. Some of that rain gets absorbed into the ground while some of it goes into our bodies of water. Yet, what happens to the rest of it? Well, it gets marked in the run off or wasted category of statistics, according to the EPA. After years of all that wasted rain water, it could add up. Now, there’s something that can save your rain water and help the environment and your garden. Wanna know the secret? It’s called a Rain Barrel!

A rain barrel is a container, which normally holds about 55 gallons of water, that is used to help catch and store rain that runs off your house or shed that would normally be lost in your storm drain. Here is what ours looks like!

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The barrels normally come with a twist off lid that locks in place along with a spout that can drain the water like a hose would. At certain locations, barrels can be customized to be smaller or bigger.

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People even go as far as to paint their rain barrels into cool designs to fit their outdoor setting or personality!

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Now that you’ve seen the fun side to rain barrels, let’s talk about the benefits that the barrels offer to you. Around 60% of our municipal water supply goes into keeping our lawns and plants growing healthy. By installing a rain barrel, you can lessen the amount of water that gets wasted during those rainy days. Rain barrels are also great for when there is a dry spell or drought in your area, therefore you plants will not have to suffer! For those of you who use insecticides or other repellents on your garden, using the water from you rain barrels leads to less water pollution from the water run off in your garden or lawn. Also if you use rain water, there are more natural nutrients in that water than the water used through a hose so it’s an all around win-win!

Rain barrels are pretty neat, aren’t they? Yet, there are also a lot of frequently asked questions that should be answered about rain barrels. A lot of people ask if rain barrels promote mosquito breeding but that is not true. Rain barrels are a closed water system that have no standing water, therefore no mosquitos would want to breed in that water. People also ask about connecting more than one rain barrel together, especially if they only have one gutter opening on their house that lets the water come out. If you drill a hole on the bottom of both barrels and link them with a hose and Teflon tape to create a seal, that should work just fine. Lastly, people always wonder if the rain is only safe for plants. A human or animal should not consume the water from the rain barrels because most of the time the water runs off the roof and into the rain barrels. Bacteria and other harmful things could be growing on your roof that gets into the water that would not be safe for humans and pets while it is okay for plants.

On that note, I will leave you with one of our interns, Ellen Underwood’s personally painted rain barrel. I hope you will consider this adjustment! Happy watering!

~Emily

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