Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rainwater Barrels

I'm starting to get excited about implementing some of the "green" practices we have seen on the road and read about long before we even hit the pavement. Some of these are so simple and low cost that it baffles me why more people wouldn't do it. Probably the easiest and low maintenance ideas is that of rainwater barrels. You simply set up a barrel below a gutter downspout and instead of having the downspout drain to the street you re-route it to fill a 55-gallon barrel. The barrel needs to have a spigot at the bottom where you would attach a hose (or you could simply dip watering cans into the barrel and walk back and forth to the plants, but my time is too valuable for that, plus I'm lazy). Then water. That simple! You can get much more in-depth, to the point where you can actually create filter beds, bore wells and open wells all designed to filter rainwater into drinking water. I simply want to water my garden and potted plants more effectively and efficiently.

My plan is to incorporate 3 water barrels throughout the property. The downspouts are usually on the front of your house, near the street drain-off. I can conceal both of these barrels in corners behind fences and use them to water my front and side yard plants, possibly with soaker hoses. The third barrel I plan to put under our patio covering in the back and use in our small vegetable garden. This one will be tougher to conceal, but I have some ideas.

Amazingly, you only need less than 0.5 inches of rainfall to fill one 55-gallon barrel (shown above). As for savings on your water bill, that depends on your water usage, size of your lawn, number of people in your household, but a rough estimate says that 40% of your water usage during summer months goes to watering gardens, lawns and other plants. My average water bill during the summer is about $80. Let's assume that I can cut my water usage by a conservative estimate of 25%, that would save me approximately $20 a month. I could go on a date with Serenity (if someone would babysit for free - hint, hint :)