First time posting here, but not new to usenet.
I live in Southern California, and while rainfall is rare, it does
happen (today for example).
For a number of reasons, I'd like to install a rain barrel. I've
started to look at them online and I'd love some insight from any of you
that have one.
I want to find a flat backed version, as my downspout is on my driveway
and I want to minmize footprint.
Thanks in advance!
Well, the bigger the better (the more ambitious versions would have a
scavenged RV water tank, a series of rain barrels chained together, an
underground tank, etc). Of course there is nothing wrong with working
with the space you have, testing the waters, etc.
Our 65 gallon rain barrels fill up with any moderate rain (by east
coast standards - maybe a quarter inch to an inch, not that I've tried
measuring closely). We fill up our watering cans with them, and
depending on how much watering we are doing, a full barrel might last
us a week or a few (which is roughly the time period between rain
You'll want some kind of mosquito screen (most commercial barrels have
Ours has a spigot to get the water out, at the bottom of the barrel.
That means putting the barrel on a cinder block or some other
platform, so there is room for the watering can under the spigot.
It can be helpful to have a guage to see how full it is (although we
don't, and just make do by tapping it, guessing, and/or unscrewing the
Any other questions? I'm not sure other parts to talk about.
We get so little rain here, in the spring/summer it can go 3 - 4 months
without a drop. I was looking at the 40 - 50 gallon size.
Did you make your own or did you buy one? Can you connect a hose to
your spigot? Do you have it "anchored" to you home... for example what
keeps it from blowing away in a strong wind if empty? I'm assuming I
will have to cut my drain pipe, any hints on that?
This might help water one pot plant. What did you have in mind that you
would do with this much water? If you have a garden a tank 10 times as big
might start to be useful, 50 times would be better.
This is only useful of there is fall from the barrel to where you want the
water. A bucket may be much simpler for this volume.
Do you have it "anchored" to you home... for example what
Depends what it's made of, the shape and where it is
I'm assuming I
Depends on what the drain pipe is made from and how it is connected to the
roof plumbing. Consider also that it will not take much of a shower to fill
your barrel (depending on how much roof area drains to that downpipe).
Where will the overflow go?
Your questions suggest that your experience is a long way from basic
plumbing or even the fairly simple concepts behind it. Perhaps there is
somebody around who is of a more practical frame of mind who could have a
look at your house and garden and give advice to get you started.
Yeah, 40 gallons over 4 months is a quart a day. So you're not really
going to be watering your garden for 4 months off of that kind of rain
barrel. A house-sized cistern will often be thousands of gallons:
Having said all that, the rain barrel is an easy way to get started
with this stuff. Just don't expect it to store what a big cistern
We bought them, although it turns out it wouldn't have been especially
hard to make them (we have a local Pepsi plant which gives away, or
sells cheap, empty plastic barrels). Our local hardware store was
reasonably able to advise on things like spigots, which we ended up
adding to the barrels we bought as it turns out.
Our spigots are the right kind, but you'd only get any decent pressure
if the elevation of the barrel is noticeably above where you want to
use the water. I've heard of people putting the barrel up on a tall
platform, or the slope of your land might allow this. But you'll
empty a 50 gallon barrel through a hose awfully fast, so at this size
I'd think in terms of watering cans.
Our barrels are heavy plastic barrels (used to ship olives before they
were rain barrels). They also probably keep some residual water in
the bottom. So I haven't noticed a tendency to blow away (at least,
not yet). Depends on the barrel, I guess. At least you don't need to
worry about winter freezing (if I remember right where you are).
We used tin snips which didn't make a very clean cut. A hacksaw might
There are a variety of diverters (which are designed to let you switch
between the rain barrel and having the water go down the downspout).
Either you'll do that or have an outflow from the rain barrel (and it
*will* overflow in heavy rains). Since you said that yours is on a
driveway, maybe it works for you to just have the overflow flow onto
the driveway (or whereever the downspout had been going).
I live in Texas where our normal rainfall hovers around 30 inches and
I have one rainbarrel at the leader and it has a nose spigot on it so
when it rains I simply bring that hose and fill other inexpensive
plastic trash cans and fill those. We use the water inside for our 155
gallon aquarium and our fish reproduce like crazy. Even out tetra's
which are said to never reproduce in tanks...I digress. Here is where
they sell a good number of rain barrels and there is a flatback and I
have the largest green one they sell. My city water provides them at
half price if you bring the water bill. Your municipal center may do
the same so look into it. Here is the website to buy them:
Gonna piggyback, if you don't mind, Jennifer.
My front yard was nonexistent until this year. Front elevation is severely
sloped naturally away from the house. Using topsoil, I managed to decrease
the slope somewhat, and has Bermuda grass growing on it now. I had to
install rain gutters in front of the house as the rainwater off the roof was
severely eroding the new soil. The downspouts are at each front corner of
the house. Downspout is standard 10' section. One terminates about 4' and
the other about 5' above the ground. Got one of those rollout thingies to
convey the water the rest of the way to the ground. Both eventually fell
off the gutter downspouts. The soil erosion just below the downspout is
awful. Hasn't rained here for awhile. So, all is hunky-dory below the
downspouts for now.
Live in same region as Jangchub. We have our severe rains, and our
droughts. Not any regular rainfall per se. When it rains, it usually
pours. Was thinking of using rainbarrels on both corners at the front of
the house. I know I'll need a pad of sorts, and have to work the ground to
get it level for a pad. I do have many spare cinder blocks. Are there any
specific parts needs like adapters from the downspout to a pipe that fits to
the rainbarrel? Or, do you run the downspout directly inside the
rainbarrel? A spigot kit for the rainbarrel?
A related problem due to the slope from the house. The fertilizer I
introduced to the front yard has somewhat washed to the gravel driveway in
front of the house. Last application of Roundup was good for 2 months on
the gravel driveway. Weeds are coming up again.
On a happy note, my daughter, 2 grandsons, and I planted some St. Augustine
plugs about 2 years ago. Area is under canopy of Live Oak and Juniper Ashe
trees. My bets would not grow due to the Juniper Ashe. I was wrong. All
the rain this year was very beneficial. The area is almost covered in St.
A rain barrel will have an overflow tube which is usually flexible and
can be directed into the garden or away from the driveway. I don't
think you need to get into thousands of dollars for cisterns or
elaborrate drains, etc. Most of the rain barrels I've seen are 75
gallons and can fill up with as little as 1/4 inch of rain, but this
situation is similar to mine. I live on a slope and though the water
drains away from the house and not into the areas where it otherwise
would collect...this has given me enough water to last through the
entire winter in the greenhouse. Actually, as it is raining I am
filling about 60 or more gallon milk jugs to create a wall of water on
the south side of the greenhouse which gives heat back at night.
Also, as I've explained in another post I also have several other
plastic garbage cans which I also channel water into using a hose
connected to the hose on the water barrel.
we set up some of those plastic 55 usa gal drum under our downpipes,
we ahve pictures on our site to show how we did it, and we use a
battery run inline boat bilge pump with a battery booster pack for
cars to pump water from them, works well for us.
On Sat, 22 Sep 2007 14:10:47 -0700, Jennifer
With peace and brightest of blessings,
len & bev
"Be Content With What You Have And
May You Find Serenity and Tranquillity In
A World That You May Not Understand."
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