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Selecting and installing a rain barrel?
Old 03-24-2012, 10:57 AM   #1
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Selecting and installing a rain barrel?

I just searched and it seems the last thread on rain barrels was in 2008. They've become more popular since then and there now seems to be an infinite variety on the market.

I would like to install one to collect water from a downspout on the rear of the house. This would allow us to refill our (new) small water garden / goldfish pond without using a dechlorinator as well as potentially water the herbs and veggies planted out there.

I am looking for advice on what features to look for (or avoid) on barrels and information on how to install one. I would like to do it myself but if not would probably need to advise handyman on how to.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 03-24-2012, 11:08 AM   #2
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A few thoughts.

If you have good free flow from the gutter into the barrel, you'll also collect lots of crud and need to clean the barrel out from time to time. Make sure the barrel is light enough that you can easily handle it for this chore.

If you have any kind of screen/mesh filter to keep (much of) the crud out the barrel, you'll likely have it clog up frequently, which can be messier than just cleaning gutters.

Another issue is heat. A black plastic barrel in the sun can yield pretty hot water on some days, which you might not want to use for delicate plants or fish. Watering from the barrel in the morning is probably better than other times of day in many climates.

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Old 03-24-2012, 12:00 PM   #3
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Assuming you live in or near Austin, Texas, you could try researching at the Natural Gardener for designs, and buy there, if you want ready made. If you want to do it really cheaply Jardine Foods near Wimberley are selling food grade steel 55 gallon drums for $4 each on Craigslist (you need to collect!!), then you would need a handyman to add an input screen and an outlet (faucet and/or hose connection).
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:23 PM   #4
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I have 3 rainbarrels. First one I bought from City of Chicago, it's a repurposed 55 gal black plastic olive barrel w/all the spigots and overflows installed, cost was $45. Planned on buying more, but someone locally offered up 2 green Raincatcher barrels (cost over $100), one which was cracked and I fixed. All have removable screen tops and overflow mechanisms, nothing more to do than to modify your downspout and put the barrel in place. I would recommend raising the height of your barrel to help increase water pressure since they only work by gravity. If heat is a concern, try to place in behind a bush or in a shady area, that's where my black one is located. The Raincatcher barrels are very nice, some can be connected together if you decide to buy more later.
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:06 PM   #5
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Also, make sure rain barrels are legal before you install one.
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Old 03-24-2012, 04:00 PM   #6
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Thanks for the tips. They are definitely legal in Austin and it will be behind a fence so as not to offend the HOA. I didn't realize Natural Gardener had rain barrels so may check that out next time I have a reason to head out that way. The steel drums are a bit too much DIY for me, though!

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