A few years ago I noticed a class that was being offered through Moorhead Community Education on rain barrelsyou 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 Im 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 wed 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.
Im 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 barrelsone 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 upless 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.)
We use the one on the deck for filling the watering can and watering pots (the ones up front that the back hose doesnt reach) and usually we just put the front one on a slow trickle and water the front gardens with it.
Granted, they are not beautifulI would have much preferred those nice wooden whiskey barrels, but those are pretty pricey. And Ive been surprised how sort of unobtrusive these areespecially 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 its not so bad because its whiteat least it matches the trim on our house.