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Rain Barrels for Modern Day Gardens

Rain barrels may not be new, but the trend towards water conservation and water-wise gardening all over North America has boosted these traditional garden items out of the history books and into modern day gardens.

The new rain barrel designs available aren't half bad looking either. It's not such a big a leap to think of rain barrels as practical and functional garden accents.

Rain barrels capture and store rainwater from house gutters and downspouts. Instead of allowing the runoff to drain into municipal storm sewers, you can use the collected rain water in your garden.

Unlike well or city water, rain water is untreated and does not contain fluoride, chlorine, minerals and other chemicals. However, if you want to use rain barrel water as drinking water, you'll have to invest in a water purification system as well.

Rain barrels can be used in areas of drought, where too few wet days leads to tight water restrictions during spring and summer. Rain barrels can also be used in areas where there is too much rain.

An unusually wet season can cause city storm sewer systems to overflow; there simply isn't anywhere for the excess water to drain. When more people use rain barrels, the easier it is on local storm water systems.

Rain Barrel Features

Rain barrels with an uncomplicated range of features work best. If you are thinking about rainwater harvesting, consider the following:

  • Size of rain barrel fits your needs—there are sizes ranging from 40 gallons to 75 gallons

  • Filter or screened intake opening for keeping out bugs, debris, and curious children. Ask if it is a childproof design.

  • Spigot made of brass or plastic that connects directly to a garden hose or to another rain barrel.

  • Constructed from new UV protected polyethylene, or from recycled "food grade" containers.

  • Overflow valve that diverts water to a garden or drain once the rain barrel is full.

  • Adequate accessories for expanding your rain collection system (linking two or more rain barrels for example).

Rainwater Harvesting Methods

Water conservation is becoming a real priority, particularly in dry climate areas. A very simple, economical means of significantly reducing your household water consumption is rainwater harvesting, and all you need to do is connect a rain barrel to your downpipe. More

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