Now that the risk of deep freeze is pretty much over, we spent some time today putting in two rain barrels. We are on a well this far out “in the country,” but I don’t want to overtax our water supply. Rain barrels are a logical choice, and after an initial investment and seasonal care, they require little upkeep; at the end of last season, we just drained the barrel and toted it to the barn.
We bought four barrels last year at the end of the season from Sustainable Solutions in Harrisonburg, but we only managed to get one in, as you can see last season at the right, between the rhododendron and a lilac. We purchased three for the house. The fourth will serve as overflow for one of the house barrels or we’ll add guttering to the barn. Guttering on the barn would definitely be more convenient for the veggie garden, but we have to consider budgets, as well. While $200 including delivery was a good deal on the rain barrels, I need to avoid putting much more into the system for a while. I’d rather put that money toward a nice tree for Arbor Day.
The barrel is only slightly different this year. We raised it another 6 inches or so by adding another layer of cinderblock. This makes it a bit easier to get a watering can under the spigot when we want to do some hand watering. The rest of the time we’ll just run a hose down to the fruit trees. The peaches and the plums will benefit from the stored water during low-rainfall weeks this summer. We’ll have to haul the water to the pears, but it’s worth it!
The process of putting in the rain barrels is relatively simple, just requiring a little muscle and a little time. Fortunately my wonderful husband didn’t mind providing the muscle!
When we purchased our home, the gutters emptied into large, rusty livestock tanks. The tanks scared me. They were a hazard to small children as well as to animals who might want to take a drink. We also had to ensure mosquito dunks were on hand to keep down the blood-sucking population. Not to mention the six inches or so of degraded plant material in the bottom of the tanks.
Tim sawed off the old guttering about a foot above the top of the barrel. We moved the livestock tank out of the way and leveled the ground underneath. We were even able to spare a small lilac growing there.
The first layer on top of the dirt consists of about two inches of large gravel. Two layers of cinderblock is then leveled on top of the gravel. A white flexible downspout ensures the water is directed into the top of the barrel. We move the barrel into place, ensure everything is level, and that the downspout is firmly in place.
That’s it! The rain barrel is in place, and we’ve instantly made our home a lot safer, a little more eco-friendly, and a bit more attractive. The border mutt likes it, too!
Have you installed rain barrels? What other “green” improvements have you made to your home?
*** This personal blog is comprised solely of the opinions, views, projects, and travels of its author, Stacey Morgan Smith. She is lucky enough to have loving family and friends whom she drags along with her on her adventures and whom she puts to work on her little farm. She uses this blog to help promote living in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, from Roanoke to the Potomac River.**