Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Installing Your Own Rain Barrel

20150702AWhy let rainwater flow off your roof and into a storm drain? You can easily collect it using a rain barrel. And it’s certainly easy enough to do: just install a rain barrel or reservoir (use a plastic garbage can, a recycled barrel, etc.) on the downspout of your home’s gutter. Make sure it’s raised above the ground at least a foot (30 cm) so water will easily flow out by the force of gravity. Next, add a spigot (available in any hardware store) near the base and you’ll have free rainwater the next time you need to water your plants. You can use it to fill your watering can or attach it to a soaker hose for even easier watering. And plants prefer rainwater, which is naturally soft, to the hard water that comes from most municipal systems and wells.

If you feel unable to cobble together your own rain barrel system, commercial models are widely available. All the parts are included: you only have to install the unit according to the instructions! But check with your municipality before buying: more and more of them are now subsidizing the purchase of rain barrels.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “Installing Your Own Rain Barrel

  1. Before cost cuts, our county had a conservations district that sold rain barrels at a very reasonable cost. We bought two and they are still going strong after about 8 years. We also have a place nearby that sells food grade barrels if you want to do your own. Rain barrels = free water from Mother Nature = a good thing.

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!

%d bloggers like this: