The Benefits of Rain Barrels

by Rachel Laurendeau on February 7, 2013

Installing rain barrels on your downspouts is a simple DIY home improvement and an easy way to collect and store snow melt-off and rainwater.

You can purchase a barrel or make your own; either way there are plenty of benefits to using rain barrels.

• Rain barrels provide free irrigation water for your garden and lawn care or for washing your car, washing your windows or even topping up your swimming pool.

• Rainwater is excellent for watering tender seedlings in your garden, as it doesn’t contain the chlorine, lime or calcium that is found in municipal water sources.

• According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), up to 40% of household water usage in the summer can be attributed to lawn and garden irrigation. That means that using water collected in rain barrels for your outdoor needs can cut your water utility bill by up to 40 per cent!

• In addition to saving money, that also means you that you are conserving water, lessening the environmental impact of your yard and garden. The water that you collect is also diverted instead of becoming storm water runoff that can pollute streams and cause erosion.

• The more rainwater we can use, the less strain we put on our municipal water systems or on our personal wells. This is particularly important during hot summer months or periods of drought.

• Rather than running off your roof, through your downspouts and potentially forming stagnant puddles around the foundation of your home, the water is held in the rain barrel until you need it. That translates into fewer concerns about foundation damage and water seepage.

Green Tip: In addition to using rain barrels, another method of water conservation is to follow the principles of xeriscaping in your landscaping and design.

Other considerations:
Safety – If you have any concerns about pets or young children getting into the rain barrel, you can simply put a padlock on the lid so that curious paws or small hands can’t remove it.

Bugs – Mosquitoes love to lay their eggs in any water that stays stagnant and rain barrels are not exempt. I’ve heard of a number of different DIY fixes for this problem including, but not limited to, covering the intake with a very fine filter such as pantyhose, putting a goldfish or two into each rain barrel to eat the larvae, OR pouring a thin layer of food grade oil over the top of the water, as long as the water level will never go below the output spouts.

References: National Geographic, Green Living and The United States Environmental Protection Agency.

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