Rain barrels are a simple way to secure a source of clean, untreated water (great for plants, not for drinking) and can help contribute to runoff control. Adding rain catchment is fairly straightforward but here are a few things to keep in mind:
How do I install a rain barrel?:
- Choose a location: To make the most of the new water source, try an opposite side of the house as the existing spigot(s) or near a location that frequently needs water.
- Prep the site: Remove any obstructions and rough-level the ground.
- Add a base: Tamped ground and a little gravel should help prevent uneven settling. Our tanks are designed to gravity feed from ground level but elevating can provide a little extra pressure or access depending on your preference. A base of concrete blocks surrounded by a perimeter of decorative brick or patio pavers looks great. When making your design, consider that your tank will weigh a few hundred pounds when filled (~8.3 pounds per gallon).
- Adjust the downspout to direct flow to the barrel: The easiest method we've found is to cut the vertical downspout section to the desired height and reinstall the bottom outlet. This can be done with a hacksaw, tin snips, or possibly just by removing a vertical section depending on your downspout segment lengths. A flexible downspout extension, available at most hardware stores, or an integrated downspout diverter can be added if you prefer. We've found that these definitely aren't necessary and sometimes make installation more tedious.
- Set the rain barrel and enjoy: At the first rain, check how the water flows into the barrel and make any final adjustments.
- Optional - route overflow: Our barrels feature an overflow trough at the front that helps direct excess water away from your property (if your barrel features an overflow spout at the rear, you may consider adding a hose or some other means to redirect the overflow outward). This flow can be captured by adding a small channel or ditch directed towards a bed of water-loving plants or a garden pond. Additional rain barrels can be added for extra capacity; just connect the spigots.
- Optional - customize: Our barrels feature a top basin that can be filled with decorative rocks or a plant such as creeping fig can be planted nearby and trained to cover the barrel with foliage. If experimenting with plants in the top basin, consider that the space may get inundated during rains.
Am I eligible for a rebate?:
Many municipalities offer rebates for installed rain catchment systems. Examples are listed below but a quick google search should help you find out.
Austin, TX Rebate ($0.50 per gallon of capacity)
San Marcos, TX Rebate ($0.50 per gallon of capacity)
How can I make something myself?:
Almost any container can be converted to capture rainwater and there are plenty of beautiful examples online to help generate ideas. Accessories to convert a container to rain storage can be found at most hardware stores but don't skimp on the fittings; a leaky barrel quickly becomes an unusable barrel. Incorporating a screen cover will prevent mosquitos keep out debris. When sizing, consider that for every inch of rain a 1,000 square-foot roof will receive 623 gallons and every gallon stored weighs 8.3 pounds.
For an off-the-shelf solution, check out our Downspout Rain Barrels