« Speaking of the garden | Main | Speaking of the garden »

August 1, 2009

Tool time: rain barrels

Garden Variety


I love my rain barrel.

It saves time and energy - I don't have to drag the hose onto the deck to water my containers - and it makes me feel like a good person.

My rain barrel sits in the corner of my deck, collecting run-off from a cut-off downspout there. There is a screen over the top to keep the debris from clogging things up, and there is a short hose with a spigot that runs out of the bottom. I fill my watering can from there.

The rain barrel easily fills up from just a cloudburst or a drizzle. A 1,000-square-foot roof will give up more than 300 gallons of water with just a half-inch of rain. My rain barrel holds only about 75 gallons, so you can see why I think I should have one positioned at each corner of the house.

According to Kathy LaLiberte, writing for Gardener's Supply, plants love rainwater because it is soft and it doesn't have chlorine or other chemicals. She writes that just 10 inches of rain in spring and summer would yield 8,160 gallons of water. You'd need a swimming pool to capture all that water, and, indeed, that's what my neighbor Bob has - the hose from his rain barrel runs into his pond.

In Annapolis, where I live, my water bill is adjusted each summer to reflect the fact that any increased water consumption is probably going to the lawn and gardens and not through the sewage treatment plant.

That's a real saving - I pay the average of my fall, winter and spring bills - but not many municipalities offer that kind of break.

A good friend's father lives outside Denver, Colo., where drought is common and water is precious. He is charged a hefty penalty if he uses more than his allotment each month.

As a result, he and his wife collect every drop they use - from the kitchen sink to the shower - and use that to water their modest vegetable garden and their perennials. A rain barrel doesn't do much good when there is no rain.

That's the case at my house, too. During summer dry spells, the rain barrel empties quickly and stays empty. That's when the hose comes out.

And I have to drain it in the winter and keep it drained. I am afraid it will freeze and crack its plastic shell.

You can construct your own rain barrel, or you can purchase one from a catalog company like Gardener's Supply, which has several styles ranging in price from about $30 to almost $300. Some of the urns are downright attractive.

You might be able to get one from your local government or a "green" organization for free or at a great discount.

Get yourself a rain barrel. It will make you feel good about yourself.

Posted by Susan Reimer at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Garden tools


Great way to get the news out regarding conserving rainwater harvesting with the addition of instructions for rain barrel set up. Great ideas and great pictures in your article. I didn't see anywhere instructions for care and maintenance of rain gutters.

Water harvesting is only as clean as the gutters are clean!

Please explain to your readers how necessary it is to keep gutters squeaky clean, for two very different reasons; 1) Keeps rain gutters free flowing and, 2) Keeps gutters free of disease, virus, mold, roaches that carry 33 different infectious diseases, decaying debris, stagnant water that breeds mosquitoes which carry West Nile Virus, leaves and other debris clogging up the gutters.

I invite y'all to come and visit with me at to see a brand new method of cleaning rain gutters that is safer, faster, cleaner, and saves you money and is called "The Best Gutter Cleaning Tool On The Market Today!"

You'll save time, money, energy and more water when you use the Gutter Clutter Buster. It vacuums out all debris, wet or dry, while you stand firmly on the ground.

So, our desire is for you to Stay Well, Stay Safe, and "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled."

Enjoy your worthwhile rainwater harvesting and add "one more drop in the bucket" toward water conservation.

I'm not sure how the Gutter Clutter Buster will help me. Since it's only 60 inches long and my roof is twenty feet high. Is there a hose attachment that long?

you might want to take a look at a downspout diverter so that taking your rain barrels off-line for the winter is easier.

If you have a wet/dry vac, it comes with two extension wands. Users that have 20' gutters purchase a third ($6.99) 20' wand and put three snuggly together and place on the end of the Gutter Clutter Buster to vacuum out their gutters. So, it does work well on the 2-story homes. The inventors of the newly invented tool also have a patent for longer additional extension attachments for this tool that will be 54" each in length.

However, because they are family owned/operated, with no investors, they are presently investigating the overall costs to provide it to the public at this time.

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact them at or call the number on their web page.

If you can take a moment from your very busy schedule, check out the inventors blog at .

God Bless you, your family, and God Bless America.

Rain Barrels are a must for any garden, rain barrels provide chemical-free water, no chlorine and no fluoride. Although there are problems that you will face with just a rain barrel: overflow, mosquitoes, critters and debris. If you are looking for a complete solution to these problems I recommend the RainReserve Rain Barrel Diverter system. It's a closed system that allows you to connect multiple rain barrels to one downspout, while keeping out the debris, critters & mosquitoes. This system also lets overflow water go back up the tubing and out the downspout.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Susan Reimer
Susan Reimer has spent 16 years writing about raising kids - among other topics - in her column for The Baltimore Sun. And every time son Joseph or daughter Jessie passed another milestone - driver's license, college, wedding or a move to a new military duty station - she has planted another garden. Now she will be writing about those gardens - and yours - here on Garden Variety.

Susan isn't an expert gardener, but she wasn't an expert mother, either. Both - the kids and the gardens - seem to be doing well in spite of her.

She lives in Annapolis with her husband, Gary Mihoces, who loves to cut his grass but has noticed that there seems to be less of it every time the kids pass another milestone.

Gardener's Supply Company - Deal of the Week
From The Baltimore Sun
Home & Garden section
Most Recent Comments
Photo galleries
Home & Garden marketplace
  • Sign up for the At Home newsletter
The home and garden newsletter includes design tips and trends, gardening coverage, ideas for DIY projects and more.
See a sample | Sign up

Stay connected