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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Singing in the Rain

Although after this week its more like I’m cursing at the rain.  Flooded roads, flooded sidewalk, rain seeping into the garage…awesome.  However, pouring rain does fill up a 55-gallon rain barrel quite nicely.  I bought my new rain barrel a couple of weeks ago and then it sat in my garage for a few days while I decided where I wanted to place it. I decided that the back of the house made the most sense since the water would be used to water my potted flowers and herbs on the back patio and I didn’t want it visible from the front of the house.

rainbarrel_downspout_athomewithhSo I dragged the barrel (that smelled of olives, btw) as well as two cinder blocks I bought from Home Depot (for a stand) across the yard.  I leveled the lawn and put my cinder blocks in place before setting the rain barrel on top so I could determine where to cut the downspout. I used a hacksaw to cut through the metal and then attached the adjustable plastic downspout adapter to the downspout to point water to the mesh-covered hole in the top of my rain barrel. 

rainbarrel_top_athomewithh

Everyone asks how I’ll get the water out.  Well, it came with a pre-assembled spigot near the bottom (notice how low it is on the barrel – this is why I needed a stand). You simply turn the spigot and water comes out.  Easy peasy.

rainbarrel_spigot_athomewithh No, the cement block isn’t in the correct place but that’s where it was when I took my picture. ;) It has since been moved back so the watering can easily fits under the spigot.  Here’s what the system looks like in place:

rainbarrel_sideview_athomewithh rainbarrel_backyard_athomewithh The last thing I needed to do was install the overflow valve. Unfortunately I didn’t get to it until today – after yesterday’s storm completely filled my 55 gallon barrel!  Crazy! Why didn’t I do it sooner?  I needed a 1” drill bit but I only had a 1/2” and a 1 1/2” (of course) so I had to run to the store and once I bought it we had days of continuous rain/drizzle so I didn’t get outside until this morning.

I was excited to put my watering can ($1 from IKEA if you’re looking for one – I got mine three years ago but they seem to carry these every year but in different colors) in place to see how well the spigot worked. It was awesome!

rainbarrel_can_athomewithh  I quickly drilled the hole, screwed in the overflow valve and then attached a hose to the valve.  I used a soaker hose since it is the only spare hose I have lying around the house right now. 

rainbarrel_hose_athomewithh Since we are going to get more rain in the next day or two it will be fun to see if it works! Also, notice that my barrel is tilted slightly forward.  I need to readjust once the ground soaks up some of the water.  It was level when I started but has shifted I’m guessing due to the wet ground.  Why bother? The barrel needs to be level so that water doesn’t collect on the top.  If water is sitting for four days you’ll get mosquitoes and I certainly don’t want to deal with those!  The instructions also said to turn on the spigot every 3-4 days during rainy season to prevent mosquitoes from developing.

I’m excited to use my collected rain water to water my flowers and herbs/tomato plant this season.  Hopefully it will save me money and rain water is better for plants since it doesn’t have chemicals or anything else they put in city water.

I still need to figure out what to do with the stand – I was thinking of staining wood to place over the cinder blocks for the barrel to sit on (kind of like a platform) but likely I’ll just paint the blocks black so they blend in with the house’s foundation and then I’ll plant some ground cover (like the stuff next to it) around it to further hide the ugly stand.

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