The Creative Gardener – What are Rain Barrels and should I use them?

Rain barrels have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity. This demand is driven by the rising price of city water sources as well as water restrictions required in drought-stricken areas. Rain barrels allow homeowners to harvest this valuable natural resource for their own use, which in turn extends and conserves city water supplies.

Why are homeowners turning to rain barrels? They are inexpensive to construct, a rain barrel is a rainwater-harvesting system typically made from a 50-85 gallon drum. The rain barrel sits underneath a downspout and collects water that would ordinarily flow into storm sewers and streams. If you wanted to construct your own rain barrel out of a leftover plastic drum or barrel, you would also need to buy vinyl hose, PVC couplings and a screen grate to keep out debris and insects. Pre-made rain barrels are increasingly available at hardware stores, garden centers and online.

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