Re-purpose a bedraggled bed to become a rainwater harvesting area with two linked rain barrels. Just be sure to pick the right site (out of sight, preferably) and properly link them together.
The memory of cool, rainy, spring days is erased when July and August arrive offering no rain for weeks and setting new records for consecutive days of above average temps.
Aside from an inch of a light soaking rain, a rain barrel is the best relief for a parched landscape. Installed prior to those rainy weeks, it will be full to the brim and ready for use when the need arises. And if one is good, two are better—and they can be linked.
The design challenge is to find an area that is both accessible and accommodating. Placing the rain barrels near the areas to be watered is a priority. Carrying heavy buckets of water a long distance just doesn’t happen in soaring temperatures, no matter the best intention by the gardener!
The rain barrels must be visually pleasing, functional and must be an enhancing addition to the garden. The spigot on each barrel must be raised high enough to place a watering can, or 5-gallon bucket underneath. Raising the barrels onto blocks or supports also increases water pressure if you want to attach a hose. Fortunately, manufacturers are also thinking of function and design for best use, not just visual appeal. Shown here are two Fiskars™ rain barrels. They are easy to install, durable and designed with a tight-fitting lid; leaving no chance of mosquito larvae hatching or small animals entering.
I’ve replaced an area of my garden, formerly planted with multiples of ‘Anthony Waterer’ spirea, and re-purposed the bed to become my new rainwater harvesting area. Tucked alongside a north facing wall, it never takes away an important “view” of the garden and adds an important function to my sustainable garden and lifestyle—the ability to water during times of extreme temperatures and drought.
Here’s What You Need:
• Measuring tape
• Electric/cordless drill
• Hole saw attachment for drill (diameter to match the flexible hose)
• Razor knife blade
• Hacksaw for cutting through downspout
• Cement blocks or support
1. Take parts inventory and review directions for ease of installation.
2. Attach and position the spout with several firm twists.
3. Place the rain barrel upright, elevating it on blocks or supports.
4. For easy watering, choose a height to accommodate a 5-gallon bucket or large watering can.
5. Attach the downspout coupling and hose following the manual instructions.
6. Cut the flexible hose to fit, saving any excess hose.
7. Using a hole saw attachment the same diameter of the flexible tube, drill through the first barrel. The right tools are necessary.
8. Make the hose connection from the downspout to the barrel.
9. Line up the connection points between the two barrels.
10. Insert couplings.
11. Connect flexible tubing between the two barrels.
12. The hoses should be taut, with no sagging.
13. You are ready to place the lids on and fill ‘em up (hope for rain).
14. Drain the rain barrels and disconnect the flexible hose and secure to downspout for the winter. Take parts inventory and review directions for ease of installation.
(From State-by-State Gardening July/August 2011. Photography by Gloria Day)