I’m always looking for ways to save money while conserving natural resources. One highly overlooked resource is rainwater.
Harvested rainwater saves well water and tap water for drinking, bathing and cooking.
Untreated rainwater is not considered safe for drinking by humans or pets, but it can be used to water plants, wash cars, and clean equipment and windows. Did I mention rainwater is free?
To build a rain barrel, you’ll need:
- One clean food-grade barrel (Empty pickle, olive, soda syrup, feed or similar 30 to 60 gallon capacity barrels with lids work well as rain barrels. Places to look for these are flea and farmer markets, delicatessens, soda processing plants, wineries, feed stores and internet sites such as craigslist.org and Amazon.com)
- One atrium grate or metal screen
- Two barbed male threaded hose adapters with shut-off valves or 1 adapter and 1 spigot
- One Overflow hose
- One Garden hose
- Old nylon knee-high stockings
- Hole saw, jigsaw or handsaw
1. Trace inverted atrium grate on lid and cut out with handsaw or jigsaw.
2. Cut a hole 4 to 5 inches from the barrel top and thread adapter for overflow hose. You can connect the overflow hose to another barrel or redirect the water into yard or garden.
3. Cut a hole above the bottom curve for spigot or garden hose with shut-off valve.
4. Place stocking over grate to keep out debris and mosquitoes.
5. Run downspout into barrel
A full 55 gallon rain barrel can weigh around 440 pounds! Keep your barrel level and sturdy by elevating it on cinderblocks. This not only makes it unlikely to tip over but also raises the spigot or out flow valve for easier use.
It is important to empty your rain barrel over winter to prevent cracking due to leftover water freezing and thawing.