Rain barrels

A few years ago I noticed a class that was being offered through Moorhead Community Education on rain barrels—you paid for the class (I think it was about $35) and then everyone in the class put together and got to take home a rain barrel.

Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was not satisfied with only ONE rain barrel, so I coerced Trevor into taking the class with me so that we’d end up with two. I figured it would be great to be able to use rain for watering–you know, save a few bucks, help the environment at the same time.

I’m really glad I did, because I noticed a couple of years ago that the fee of the class had doubled (I never would have convinced Trevor to pay THAT much for both of us to take the class). They are basically just food-grade plastic barrels (I believe ours previously held Mountain Dew syrup) with some holes drilled in them for the rain to flow in the top and for a spigot on the bottom for emptying.

So we took the class and ended up with two rain barrels—one that catches the rain coming off the front half of the roof, and one that catches the rain coming off the back half.  (We have a VERY simple roofline.)  It amazes me how little rain it takes for them to fill up—less than a quarter inch will do it easily. (You can just barely see it in the back/right of this photo, up against the house.)

Flowers in front of rain barrel

We use the one on the deck for filling the watering can and watering pots (the ones up front that the back hose doesn’t reach) and usually we just put the front one on a slow trickle and water the front gardens with it.

Granted, they are not beautiful—I would have much preferred those nice wooden whiskey barrels, but those are pretty pricey.  And I’ve been surprised how sort of unobtrusive these are—especially since one is sitting right on the deck. But the one up front has so many plants around it that it barely shows except in spring, and even then it’s not so bad because it’s white—at least it matches the trim on our house.  :)

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2 Responses to Rain barrels

  1. Ginny says:

    Hi Sandi–
    I love this post especially, because I really want to think about getting/making some rain barrels. I had a couple of questions–for those really big down-pours, if the barrel fills up completely, and it is still raining, is there a mechanism to deal with the overflow? And my second question is: Would I have to have the barrel sitting up higher than ground level (it looks like your front one is sitting on the ground, though) to get water pressure for watering? Oh, and is there a spigot? (So, I guess that’s 3 questions… :) ). Thanks for any advice! ~Ginny

  2. Avatar of Sandi Sandi says:

    There is an overflow hose that comes out a few inches from the top of the rain barrel–so then you just put the end of that fairly short hose wherever it’s safe for the extra to flow out. We just make sure ours is a bit away from the house. ;) As far as having it above ground level, that is good–we have the one on the deck, which I use for watering, but the one that sits on the ground in front, I just have to drain the water out of it from the bottom “spigot”–each one has a spigot just about an inch above the bottom of the barrel, and we just set the front barrel spigot to a slow trickle. We’ve got a longer hose attached to the spigot of each barrel and so the front one can drain into one of our front gardens. But you’re absolutely right–I can’t fill a watering can with that one because of the lack of pressure.

    But I love them–and they hardly take any rain at all to fill right up! Good luck! :)

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