Rainwater harvesting is a system that involves collecting rainfall in a reservoir or cistern. Colecting rainwater can be particularly useful to home gardeners because it is healthier for your plants when compared to tap water that has been treated. Rainwater collecting is also a free way to water your plants after the initial set-up cost. For our urban homestead, our method for rainwater harvesting is using multiple 50-gallon rain barrels. We've had our system set up for several years and continue to add to it. In this post, we'll show you How To Set Up A Rain Barrel System For Your Garden to help maximize the amount of rain collected.
Plants Thrive With Rainwater
Rainwater is better for your plants than tap water because it does not contain the chlorine and other chemicals that are typically in municipal/city water. Rainwater also tends to be more acidic than tap water creating better soil pH conditions. Even if you have a well collecting rainwater makes sense because it allows you to collect and save a precious resource, water.
How To Set Up A Rain Barrel For Your Garden
Each time I share a picture on Instagram or Facebook we get questions about our set-up. Last week when I was looking for images to help explain our set-up to someone I remembered the video clips we had taken years ago while setting it up. Scott took the time to sort through them and put together this short video.
Installing The Rain Barrel System
After selecting a rain barrel that meets your gardening needs, it is important to correctly install the rain barrel for the system to work properly. If you have a large garden or live in an area where rain can be scarce having multiple barrels is important.
Step 1: Install Rain Gutter
To collect rainwater from the roof you will need to install a rain gutter along the edge of the roof. Home-Depot is where we purchased ours but most home improvement stores carry it or you can have it professionally installed. It was not hard to install and we saved a lot of money by doing it ourselves.
Step 2: Create A Level Surface For The Rain Barrels
Before placing the first rain barrel near the downspout, it is important to create a stable base for the rain barrels to sit on. Remove any grass, rocks, or grass around the base of the rain barrel. Level the soil and add a couple of inches of leveling sand if necessary. Finally, elevate the rain barrel using cinder blocks or bricks. Elevating your rain barrel will make it easier to access the spigot in order to fill up a watering can.
Step 3: Cut the Downspout
Place the rain barrel on top of the base your prepared in Step 1. Then mark a spot on the downspout that is 9-12 inches above the top of the barrel. Finally, use a hacksaw to cut through the downspout.
Step 3: Attach Downspout Connectors
Install downspout connectors to connect the metal gutter material to the flexible downspout. The flexible section allows you to angle the flow of the water into the barrel.
Step 4: Connect The Overflow Hose
The overflow connectors are what are used to connect multiple barrels together. The final barrel in the row then connects to an overflow hose. Direct the overflow hose away from your home such that standing water will not adversely impact the structure. If possible, direct the overflow hose or pipe to a plant bed or to a dry spot on your lawn. I usually have a five-gallon bucket under ours. When that overflows it runs off into the rocks and garden.
Maintaining A Rain Barrel
Like most things, rain barrels do require some maintenance. A small amount of maintenance can increase the life of your rain barrel and will allow the system to work more effectively. An unmaintained rain barrel can cause flooding in the vicinity of the rain barrel, cause insect problems, and cause a mess.
I hope you enjoyed this post and video. If you decide Setting up A Rain Barrel System For Your Garden is for you be sure to tag us with #thewellspentday or #dayswellspent so we can see your finished system! If you're looking for more gardening ideas be sure to click around in the gardening section of our website.