Rainwater harvesting can be as simple as placing a rain barrel under a roof’s downspout for collecting water for your plants, or it can be an elaborate arrangement of cisterns, pumps and filters to provide an entire household with water.
If you have rain gutters on your home and want an inexpensive way to start harvesting rainwater for your landscaping needs, rain barrels are the best option.
A rain barrel is a container used to collect and store a free source of water (rain) from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and be diverted to storm drains and streams.
Some of the benefits include:
1. It is free; the only cost is for collection and use.
2. It lessens demand on the municipal water supply.
3. It benefits plants more than chemically treated water.
Just look outside your window the next time it rains and imagine all the water that’s running down your driveway being put to beneficial use in your home and garden.
My favorite rain Barrel is the Spruce Creek Rain Barrel which stores 54 gallons of water. You can purchase this rain barrel from my gutter accessories page. It comes fully assembled for easy setup and has a one piece closed design which prevents access of children, pets and wildlife. Quality features such as solid brass spigot for attaching garden hose and an automatic overflow with 6 foot hose. Secure aluminum intake screens keep out insects and filters heavy debris from entering rain barrel. The size is 23" round and 36" tall. Durable - over 20 lbs and nearly 1/4 inch thick. Food grade polyethylene plastic. Just one quarter inch of rain on a small 500 sq. ft roof will completely fill this 54 gallon water.
Your rain barrel should have a spigot/faucet so that you can access the water, an overflow pipe, a sealed and screened lid with an opening to attach your downspout and screens on all vents.
The rain barrel should be a food grade container, made to hold liquid.
A rainwater harvesting systems should have an overflow to a safe disposal location (stormwater drain or rain garden).
If you intend to water edible plants with your rainwater, consider installing a first flush diverter, which disposes of the first inch of rain and ensures that you harvest only the cleanest rainwater.
Your rain barrel should be secured on a firm, level surface so that it will not tip over. It can be raised with concrete blocks or a rain barrel stand to help with gravity flow irrigation.
Even though most rain barrels do come with an overflow hose, you may want to prevent the water from entering the rain barrel during times of heavy rain or winter months. A downspout diverter can direct the flow of water to the rain barrel or down to the ground through your downspout with just a flip of a lever.
I would like to draw some attention to the beauty of a rain chain. Since aesthetics outside the home is often of great importance, aluminum downspouts can sometimes be less than pleasing going into your rustic rain barrel. A rain chain downspout is a nice alternative if you’re looking for something else to complete the picture.
If you would like a more in depth knowledge on rain barrels, I strongly suggest you visit rain barrel world. Everything you want to know about rain barrels in much more detail.
What is a first-flush diverter and how does it work?
During the first moments of a rain storm pollen, mold spoors and other contaminants are washed off a rooftop and into the gutter system. If the downspouts do not have some type of first flush device to remove this dirty water, it will be washed into your rain barrels or rainwater harvesting system.
A first-flush diverter helps keep your system clean by enabling dust, debris, and fecal matter that collects on your roof and in your gutters between rainfalls to be flushed out at the very beginning of the rainwater harvesting process. The cleaner your water is going into your system, the cleaner your water will be when you use it. Bacteria also like to live in decaying leaves and other organic matter that collects in the gutters.
The most popular type of device is the constant volume container. Constant volume containers simply fill to capacity then spill over into the downspout leading to your rainwater harvesting system.
The constant volume container usually has a ball that rises and falls with the water level to block off the flow when the basin reaches its required capacity.
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