Rain Barrel Options and Installation

Rain barrels are an excellent way to conserve water for your summer gardening needs. With climate change weather has become even less predictable and droughts have gotten more severe. Here in North Texas we've been in a drought since 2010. The rains of 2013 and 2016 are helping, but large parts of the state are still in drought conditions. Because of rising global temperatures each summer has been hotter than the last. This makes storing water in rain barrels an essential part of sustainable gardening, emergency supplies, and keeping water utility costs down in the summer. 

Rain Barrel Options

Easy Watering, Most Expensive

There are wonderful rain barrel options that include a spout which makes watering your garden easy. When it's time to water, attach a hose to the faucet and turn it on. The rain barrel needs to be close to the garden because the only pressure will be from gravity. The higher you set your rain barrel, the better pressure you can get. Some of them look like old wooden barrels, decorative pots, or stylish urns. These are the pricier option, ranging anywhere from $80 - $130. 

Most Work, Least Expensive

Do you really need to spend $90 on a rain barrel? Not if you're willing to put in some extra work. The faucet and cosmetic appearance are the only difference between 'rain barrels' and 30 gallon commercial trash cans. You can get a 30 gallon commercial trash can for around $30, or 55 gallons for about $70. This option will require you to scoop water and walk it to your garden. 

Installing Rain Barrels

Many people install their rain barrels under their roof's downspout. To keep ours from being visible from the road - both an eyesore and not appreciated by the home owner's association - we keep a line of rain barrels against the back of the house. We don't have gutters around the back of the house so they fill up with rain coming off the roof.

If you're using rain barrels with faucets, set them up on cinder blocks. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon, and most rain barrels are 40 - 50 gallons, meaning they weigh 320 - 400 pounds when full. Keep in mind that they will need to be relatively close to your garden because the only water pressure is supplied by gravity. If you're using the more work intensive but less expensive option, you can simply set them on the ground anywhere that's convenient for water collection.

For how to organically control mosquitoes and algae bloom in your rain barrels, see my post Organically Control Mosquitoes and Algae in Rain Barrels.

Rain Barrel vs Trash Can

Type                 Rain Barrel                 Commercial Trash Can
Capacity          40 - 80 gallons                 20 - 55 gallons
Work               Least intensive                 Most intensive
Asthetic           Decorative                       Industrial
Price Range      $80 - $130                      $30-$70



Popular Posts