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Rain Barrel?
Old 04-23-2008, 09:46 AM   #1
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Rain Barrel?

Since we finally did landscaping and set up a garden, we are using lots of water. Anyone use a rain barrel? Worth the modest amount of money and effort? Any advice?
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Old 04-23-2008, 10:24 AM   #2
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More details please.
1. what is significant amount of water ( for example : watering 3 times a week 350 gallons each time or my monthly water bill in the spring & summer is 6000 gallons more than the winter)
2. what needs to be watered (grass, shrubs, etc) & how many
3. your zip code (to get rain & zone data)
4. estimated rain collection area (for example you have four gutters on every corner of the house and the roof area is 1000 sq. feet and you are going to collect from one spout it would be 250 sq. ft
5. type of soil
6. marginal cost of water

I don't use a barrel myself, because I have underground stream going through my property, so I can use a small pump for my drip irrigation, but I've used rain collection systems in the past.
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Old 04-23-2008, 10:39 AM   #3
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Since my MIL uses a fair amount of water for her garden and flowers, we installed a simple rain barrel (55 Gallons) under one of her gutter spouts. A good storm is usually enough to fill up the barrel and provide enough water for the garden for 1 week+. In the past year, the barrel has never been empty and there has always been enough water in it for her watering needs. I think it is worth it, even though water down here is pretty cheap. From spring through fall, she saves about $20 a month on her water bill.

My dad has installed a 1000 gallon underground holding tank for rain water (which he collects from his home's gutters). It is outfitted with a pump and he can attach a garden hose directly to the tank and use the water for his garden or to wash his car. It was pretty costly (about $2500) but in his case worth it, because water is very very expensive where he lives.
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Old 04-23-2008, 10:52 AM   #4
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Are skeeters an issue where you are? there's a little fish called Gambusia Mosquitofish - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that loves to eat skeeter larvae and may be worth the investment along with the $5-10 for a 55 drum.
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Old 04-23-2008, 11:14 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by FIREdreamer View Post
Since my MIL uses a fair amount of water for her garden and flowers, we installed a simple rain barrel (55 Gallons) under one of her gutter spouts. A good storm is usually enough to fill up the barrel and provide enough water for the garden for 1 week+. In the past year, the barrel has never been empty and there has always been enough water in it for her watering needs. I think it is worth it, even though water down here is pretty cheap. From spring through fall, she saves about $20 a month on her water bill.
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Actually MIL's water is extremely expensive. If she saves $20/mo by using 220 gals from the rain barrel, that's almost a dime a gallon!
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Old 04-23-2008, 11:33 AM   #6
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I've used one in the past, but at the present time I don't have one. I'll have a couple before summer is over though. I don't do it to necessarily save $$, but rather as a convenience........using the rain barrel is easier than dragging 150-200' of hose out behind the garage/workshop to water during dry spells. I still use the hose for gardens and planters closer to the house....say within 50-75'....and most of that is with soaker hoses with quick-connects that are laid semi-permanently in the beds.

Since most of what I have growing here on the homestead are native perennials, shrubs, and trees, watering isn't much of an issue........if it's been growing 'wild' in this area for a couple hundred years or more, it'll probably survive without me babying it along. The only major exceptions to that are my veggies, and my containers......those critters get watered about every other day......and they're fairly close to the spigot.

Normally our water bill only goes up about $35 a month during the summer months, and since our gas bill goes down steeply during those months, we're not overly concerned with the extra water usage.
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Old 04-23-2008, 11:39 AM   #7
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Water is relatively expensive where I am and will be getting more so.

Dunno how many gallons, since we just started watering. Before this, the four of us in a modest home were racking up north of $100 a month in water bills.

What needs to be watered is my quarter acre (less the house square footage). About half grass, small veggie garden, and 20 or 30 shrubs. The monster oak trees take care of themselves as they have for the past hundred years.

Skeeters are a definite issue. I suppose the mosquito screens don't do the job?
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Old 04-23-2008, 11:57 AM   #8
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Skeeters are a definite issue. I suppose the mosquito screens don't do the job?
I think the screens do a pretty good job of keeping the skeeters from taking over. You can get little barley bales (they look like a miniature bale of hay) and drop one in the barrel to control the skeeters. They're used in ponds and other water features for that purpose, and can be purchased at garden and landscape joints that carry stuff for ponds. I've also seen skeeter 'dunks' that are a small disk or donut shaped thing made out of barley or some similar product.

BTW, they are completely non-toxic to humans, pets, beneficial insects, and plants.......'cause all it is is barley.....but it stops skeeters from multiplying! You can even drop one in your bird baths 'cause they're non-toxic to the birdies too.
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:12 PM   #9
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i've got a well for the garden and it is a beautiful thing. also my garden takes a lot less water than a lawn. florida has been under tight water restrictions because lake okeechobee got so low. but watering for the allowed once a week has caused no harm to my garden so i'm keeping it at that even though we can water twice a week now. the lawn at the inherited house costs about $150/month to keep green and i know a neighbor of mine spends almost $300/month on his (or at least he did before restrictions came into play).

love the idea of a water barrel. we had cisterns in st. croix which collected roof water. but i'd be real concerned with that in florida. sounds like a big ol' mosquito manufacturing plant. love goonie's idea of barley. never heard of that before. during summer i refresh bird bath twice a week to control the larvae.
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:22 PM   #10
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Actually MIL's water is extremely expensive. If she saves $20/mo by using 220 gals from the rain barrel, that's almost a dime a gallon!
Well actually I included sewer costs here and those are actually a lot more expensive than the water itself. Where she lives, sewer costs are based on your water consumption. If you use 2500 gallons of water per month for example, they charge you for 2500 gallons of sewer. The sewer part is a lot more expensive than the water part. If you collect rain water, you don't have to pay for sewer costs either. She told me that her water bill went from $60 a month to about $40 a month (including sewer costs). I have not seen the bill myself so I have to go with what she says... Off course part of the reduction in her water usage could come from her wasting less water too, I don't know... She is notorious for using a lot of water. A couple of years ago she stayed at our house for thanksgiving for only three days, but that was enough to increase our water consumption for that month by 25%!!!!
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:59 PM   #11
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Water is relatively expensive where I am and will be getting more so.
What I see on the web is relatively cheap.
I assumed you are in vicinity of Matawan, NJ.
Rates for Marlboro, NJ for example are $3.82 per 1000 gallons ( and unchanged from 2004: http://www.gordonscornerwater.com/tariff.pdf )

Quote:
What needs to be watered is my quarter acre (less the house square footage). About half grass, small veggie garden, and 20 or 30 shrubs. The monster oak trees take care of themselves as they have for the past hundred years.
For quick rain check I used Average Weather for Matawan, NJ - Temperature and Precipitation

Looks like unless you have a spell of drought you don't need to water the grass at all (rule of thumb says one inch of water per week and most of the months are bringing around 4 inches of rain).

What setup do you have for watering today? In ground sprinklers? Garden hose attached sprinkler? Hand watering from the hose?

For veggie garden & delicate shrubs I would do drip, I would not worry about hardy shrubs.
If we assume 150 1GPH emitters (and most likely you will have less than a 100) for the garden and shrubs run for an hour every other day, you are talking only about 75 gallons per day on average.
2250 gallons per month at above prices is less than $9 per month additional cost.

Now if you want to sprinkle the "water thief" a.k.a. grass, if we assume 4000 square feet to water with 1 inch of water, it takes 2500 gallons to do it (ca $10 per watering).

As far a rain barrel collection - I would not bother with it in your situation.
Keep in mind that most likely you would need to buy a pump to distribute collected water.
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Old 04-23-2008, 01:06 PM   #12
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Since we finally did landscaping and set up a garden, we are using lots of water. Anyone use a rain barrel? Worth the modest amount of money and effort? Any advice?
Years ago, we lived on an acre and had a huge garden. Doing environmentally friendly and organic things became a hobby for DW and I.

We collected water, we composted, we mulched, we avoided commercial pest and weed control products, we canned, we froze, we subscribed to Organic Gardening magazine and took their philosophies to heart, we joined local organic gardening clubs, .......... and on and on. It was great fun!

When we moved to this house, somehow the thought of getting everything set up again seemed a little overwhelming (with a new family, expanding job duties, etc.) and we let the hobby go. Now it's a few tomatoes and other veggies stuck in the ground wherever we can find a little spot. Regular suburbanites!

So, regarding your rain barrel question....... You won't save appreciable money using one. If you're thinking of doing it for that reason, forget it, not worth it. But doing things like that can be fun and interesting. And you will be learning techniques that could be very useful to you over the years as prices for water and food head for the sky.
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Old 04-23-2008, 01:59 PM   #13
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Looks like unless you have a spell of drought you don't need to water the grass at all (rule of thumb says one inch of water per week and most of the months are bringing around 4 inches of rain).

What setup do you have for watering today? In ground sprinklers? Garden hose attached sprinkler? Hand watering from the hose?

For veggie garden & delicate shrubs I would do drip, I would not worry about hardy shrubs.
If we assume 150 1GPH emitters (and most likely you will have less than a 100) for the garden and shrubs run for an hour every other day, you are talking only about 75 gallons per day on average.
2250 gallons per month at above prices is less than $9 per month additional cost.

Now if you want to sprinkle the "water thief" a.k.a. grass, if we assume 4000 square feet to water with 1 inch of water, it takes 2500 gallons to do it (ca $10 per watering).

As far a rain barrel collection - I would not bother with it in your situation.
Keep in mind that most likely you would need to buy a pump to distribute collected water.
OK, thanks. Right now we are using sprinklers attached to a hose to water. Watering the dirt lawn every day because the grass seed is just starting to sprout and we are trying to actually get stuff to grow (and it has been bone dry for a week - unusual at this time of year). We are also watering the shrubs because many were just planted/transplanted and we are trying to get them established. Are we overdoing it?
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Old 04-23-2008, 02:21 PM   #14
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If your soil is well drained, I would water the shrubs every day for the first month in the ground. If the soil is poorly drained you won't need to water so often. Yes, until that grass is up and going you are going to need to water everyday or even more often.
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Old 04-23-2008, 02:27 PM   #15
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When I had my new shrubs put in they told me once a day for the first month for 25 minutes and then to gradually cut back to twice a week . Also to feed them once a month . It's worked they are all looking good and I know nothing about plants .
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Old 04-23-2008, 03:17 PM   #16
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In Colorado you don't own the rain that falls on your roof, so collecting it is illegal. This may well be true in other Western states.

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Old 04-23-2008, 04:01 PM   #17
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Rain water is better for plants too, assuming city water has residual chlorine and rain in your particular locale isn't acid rain.

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Old 04-23-2008, 04:26 PM   #18
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+1 to what Martha said
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Old 04-23-2008, 04:42 PM   #19
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What is practical depends on the grades of your site.

Do you have downspouts? You could capture rain water that way.

Using rain water through your sprinkler system can cause issues with your health department if it is also connected to potable water because of the potential for back flows. If the system was properly installed it has a back flow preventer but the plumbing inspectors have a hissy-fit never-the-less. The other issue can be that your captured rain water has bits of grit which plug sprinkler heads.

I hope to heaven that the air quality is better in NE NJ than when I lived there!!! Just for giggles you should test it's acidity in August.
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Old 04-23-2008, 04:43 PM   #20
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In Colorado you don't own the rain that falls on your roof, so collecting it is illegal. This may well be true in other Western states.

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what a crock of @#%? nonsense ...

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