Conserve Water with Rain Barrels

Use rain barrels to collect rainwater to water your crops and conserve natural resources.

by Linda Tagliaferro
Rain barrel

Courtesy Bluegrass PRIDE

Collecting rainwater in barrels provides access to a free water source that is naturally soft. By harvesting a steady supply of rainwater, you can conserve our natural resources. Unlike treated water from city systems, rainwater doesn’t contain chlorine, fluoride or other chemicals. Also, the collected water’s mild temperatures won’t shock your plants in hot weather like cold water from garden hoses.

During arid times, you’ll be glad you coserve water. Some communities, particularly in the desert regions of the country, have strained water resources as underground aquifers are being relied upon for more and more usage.

Always keep sturdy lids on your rain barrels. Children and small animals can drown in even a small amount of water, so take precautions before setting up your system. Buy rain barrels with childproof openings, and check rain barrels often to make sure lids are firmly in place.

Rain barrels hook up to your home’s downspouts to collect roof runoff. Spigots or standard garden-house connections provide easy access to the stored water. Make sure to buy rain barrels with overflow valves so that you can direct excess water via hose into another barrel or into a desired location. If you have the space, connecting several barrels to harvest large quantities of rainwater quickly can be useful during downpours.

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You can also purchase rain barrels with pitcher pumps that pump water from the rain barrel as you would pump water from a well or cistern. One model sold by Clean Air Gardening features a screw-on top with an inner mesh screen that allows water to flow inside while keeping debris and insects out. The sturdy top keeps pets and children safe.

Always buy food-grade rain barrels, especially if they’re recycled. Even with these precautions do not use the rainwater for human consumption.

About the Author: Linda Tagliaferro lives in the suburbs of New York City, where she and her husband enjoy fruits from their fig trees, their home-grown basil in pesto and their wild-growing milkweed that feeds monarch butterflies. She’s been a freelance writer for 20 years and has written over 40 books for children and adults.

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