Rain Barrel and Composter Questions

Q.  What are your best tips about installing rain barrels?

There are several tips I would give the newbie rain barrel user.  

1.  Since rain barrels are typically connected to downspouts of structures - home, shed, garage - locate it as close to the garden/flower bed as possible.

2.  Be sure to elevate the barrel to get the best water flow.  You can purchase a rain barrel stand or use cement blocks or other bricks.  Just be sure the structure is stable and level.

3.  Make allowances for overflow when your barrel is full.  In a good downpour, they fill up quickly.  Most barrels have overflow extensions - sometimes an extra hole with a tube.  Or if you're making your own barrel, some kits have diverters for your gutter that provide for overflow.  Check out the Earthminded Rain Barrel Kit.  It has the easiest diverter system to install.

 

Q.  Where should I put my rain barrel.

A.  Typically rain barrels are designed to be connected to the downspouts on your homes exterior making it easy to collect rainwater that runs off your homes roof.  Be sure to find a level spot because when the rain barrel is full it, is extremely heavy and could tip if not level.  We recommend using a rain barrel stand or making a stand from cement blocks or bricks.  This provides a sturdy base for your barrel.  It also raises the barrel several inches off the ground - we recommend at least 8 inches.  This makes getting the water out of your barrel easier and increases the flow of water if you are connecting a hose to your barrel.   

Other Areas:

Rain barrels can be placed in other areas of your landscaping where water is needed.  One reader has placed several rain barrels throughout her flower beds that are not near any water source.  She fills the barrels then is able to use the water when needed without dragging out hoses.   One of the rain barrels she chose is actually the rain barrel that looks like a rock,  the Rain Wizard Rock, so it adds to the beauty of her flower bed. 

I personally have set up several rain barrels to use in my garden which is an acre plot that is several hundred feet from any water source.  I have a  shed near the garden that houses gardening equipment and I installed gutters on the two sides of the shed.  I then connected 2 barrels to collect rain water from the roof of the shed.  The barrels fill up quickly with an average rainfall and I have an ample supply of water for my crops when needed.   I'm going to link several more rain barrels so that I'm sure not to run out of water.

What about you?  Where have you placed your barrels - send us a picture to share with our readers. Go to contact us and add your picture as an attachment - in jpg form.  

Q.  How much rain water can I expect to collect during an average rainfall?  

 A.  For every inch of rain that falls on a roof area of 1,000 square feet, you can expect 600 gallons of rainwater will roll of your roof and through your downspouts.  Most rain  barrels can store between 40 and 65 gallons of water.  If you have several barrels at different downspouts, you can collect several hundred gallons of water.  Or, you could have one barrel connected to a downspout with several rain barrels connected together using connector hoses.  Just be sure that the final barrel has a hose that will send overflow away from your home.  In a heavy downpour your barrel can fill up quickly!

To calculate the square footage of your roof,  measure the outside walls of your home then multiply them together.  

For example:  your house is 25 ft by  20 ft - 25 X 20 = 500 square feet of roof area.  Since one inch of rain produces approximately 600 gallons of water on a 1,000 square foot roof, a 500 square foot roof would produce 300 gallons of water.  If your roof is 2000 square feet, that means 1200 gallons of water flowing off your roof.  Further calculations - if you have four downspouts, then theoretically 1/4 of the rain from you roof will flow through each downspout.  For our 500 square foot house with 4 downspouts, that could mean 125 gallons of water with 1 inch of rain.  

While it is fairly easy to calculate the potential rainwater you can collect, you must remember that these are just estimates.  In a heavy down pour, rain water flows rapidly through a downspout and you could lose some water to splashing and overflow.  As you become more familiar with your barrel and the water flow where you've placed your barrel, you'll be able to make adjustments to placement to get the most efficient use of your barrel.

 

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