We can harvest rainwater by simple means such as collecting it in a bucket, or it can be an elaborate process which involves accumulating it in underground cisterns. Recycling rain water means that one is less dependent on water supplied by the utility company for gardening purposes. Rainwater harvesting also helps to decrease erosion and flooding. Areas that are prone to be chronically wet in the backyard can also be kept dry. This rain barrel water can be used to water your plants and lawns.
For those trying their hand at recycling rainwater for the first time, setting up a rain barrel is a very simple and economical option. If the area one lives in receives ample rainfall, then the amount of water one manages to accumulate, is substantial. This means increased savings on utility bills. The process of gathering this water is very simple and involves positioning the rain barrel at a place where water runs off the roof of the house. This would ideally be where there is a roof downspout.
It is more economical to make your own rain barrel than going out and buying a ready-made one. One can pick up the materials required at the local hardware store. An old drum can be easily bought from soft drink manufacturers. If not, any other heavy duty plastic barrel would do the trick. Ensure that the barrel is clean and does not have any residue of toxic materials. If the top of the drum is sealed drill an opening which can be covered with a screen or filter to prevent any debris from entering the barrel. Raising the barrel off the ground using cinder blocks would facilitate easy usage of the collected rain water. The water from the barrel can be used by making a small hole towards the lower part of the drum and connecting your garden hose to it. A ball valve to shut off the water flow ensures that no water is wasted. It is advisable to have a hole near the top facing away from the house to ensure that overflow does not damage the foundation of the house. Attaching a hose to the overflow hole to divert the flow away from the house to the garden or down a slope to the street is a better idea. Commercial rain barrels come with an overflow port that allows as much to flow out of the barrel as the downspout puts into it, ensuring that there is no overflow.
Collected water should not be used for cooking, bathing or drinking. The water may be used for washing cars, the driveway and birdbaths, Care should be taken to secure the lid of the barrel so that kids and animals do not fall in. One could also try and join multiple barrels if one needs additional water. The barrels need to be shaded away from the sun to prevent algae from growing in it. Covering the barrels ensures that mosquitoes don’t use them as breeding grounds.