Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A rain is a terrible thing to waste

I spent the last couple of weekends working very hard in my landscape. By “work”, I mean that I sat and watched my husband while he built a beautiful paver pad for our new rain barrel to sit on. I did hand him tools from time to time, but for the most part, my attention was divided between watching him build the pad and watching a dove build a nest almost directly over his head in a big tree.

We had built the rain barrel several weekends before. It took us less than an hour, I’d say. So it seems a little extreme that he has spent two weekends working on a pad to put the thing on, but my husband really loves rain barrels.

If you don’t already have a rain barrel (or two) in your yard, consider the ways that rain barrels help you save:

Rain barrels collect and save rain, which provides wonderful pure fresh water for plants and landscapes. A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months.

Which means, of course, that rain barrels save money by allowing homeowners to use rainwater rather than tap water, cutting down on utility bills.

If you make your own rain barrel, you are saving space in a landfill by keeping a nice big plastic barrel out of there. And in the Metro DC area, rain barrels help to “Save the Bay” by decreasing the amount of storm water runoff that finds its way into the Chesapeake Bay.

Even knowing all the advantages, we had put off buying a rain barrel because we didn’t know how fun and easy they are to make. But after taking a rain barrel workshop, we now know that when we are looking for something fun and useful to work on out in a nice shady corner of the yard, a rain barrel is a perfect weekend project.

My husband is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to building things so our plan is a little different than some. But the basic steps and tools needed for rain barrel construction are all similar. The difference will be in how elaborate you want to get with hooking your rain barrel up and using it.

Whether you decide to build your own rain barrel or buy one that is already made, you will be doing something fun for your garden and for the environment. I can’t really explain why, but watering our plants with water that we collected ourselves in our homemade rain barrel is almost as much fun as eating homegrown food fresh from our garden.

You can register for a “make your own” rain barrel workshop or purchase one readymade by visiting the Northern Virginia Rain Barrel Program site at: . For more information, contact or call 703-324-1428.

Other local sources for rain barrel information are listed below:

You can buy rain barrels manufactured from 55 gallon recycled food grade barrels from Scott Key Center. For more information, email the Scott Key Center, a division of the Frederick County Health Department, or call (301) 600-1600

To buy empty barrels so that you can make your own:

For information on how to build a rain barrel without attending a workshop:

Build a simple rain barrel – Maryland environmental design program.

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