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Rain, rain, go... into a barrel for later!

It's been so hot and dry here in Dallas for the past few weeks, we thought it was a perfect time to talk about one of our favorite DIY projects sitting in our back yard. Our rain barrels! Rain barrels are such a perfect example of not letting precious resources go to waste and saving them for later when they're really needed; in this case, that precious resource is water.

There's a reason the saying, "When it rains, it pours" rings true for many of us. It seems like we're either in a crazy storm with too much water leading to flash floods or a blistering drought where the ground is dry and cracked, and all the plants are begging for water. In either case, it's rain barrels to the rescue!

What exactly are rain barrels and more importantly, how do you get your hands on one?

Rain barrels are containers typically ranging between 50 and 80 gallons that capture water running off of your roof to use at a later date. These barrels are normally placed underneath your home's guttering system and have a spigot for filling watering cans and/or a hose connection to make it easy to utilize the stored water in your garden.

Rain barrels can be anything from plastic drums, to terra cotta pottery, and everything in between. If you're feeling industrious, you can make your own barrels like we did; they're not the most beautiful creations but they're tucked away in the corner of our backyard and you can hardly seen them. Here are a couple of resources to get you going on building your own: DIY Network, HGTV.

If the do it yourself approach isn't really your thing and you want something a bit more professional and aesthetically pleasing, you're in luck because there are so many options out there! Below are just a few that we came across that looked awesome (full disclaimer, we haven't used any of these, so we can't personally recommend one).

So why are rain barrels so awesome and handy?

  • They save you money, since you have all that rainwater stored up and ready to use during the hot summer. It's estimated in many areas of the United States that 40% of the typical water bill during the summer is for watering your landscaping.

  • Rain barrels will help reduce the amount of water that runs into our storm water systems which takes oil, pesticides, fertilizers and other pollution with it as it travels to our lakes and rivers. The contaminants that reach our local bodies of water create dangerous living conditions for the fish and wildlife.

  • Your plants love rainwater over city water. Rainwater is highly oxygenated, free of salt, fluoride and chlorine. Just what your plants prefer!

  • You can store water for times of drought and water restrictions. One inch of rain falling on an average sized home can produce hundreds of gallons of water that can be used during times when we go weeks without rain. We're sold! We need to install more rain barrels.

Curious about how much water you could be harvesting off your roof every year? Use this nifty calculator to give you an estimate. We ran the numbers for our home using the average annual rainfall for Dallas, and the results were mind blowing...

154,688 gallons of water can be harvested off our roof and stored in rain barrels every year. Amazing!


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