The Kalamazoo River Watershed Council advertised a great spring deal – take part in water conservation and purchase a rain barrel for the low low price of $45. Once upon a time these barrels carried food – maybe mine held 55 gallons of pickles in its former life? – but Upcycle Products in Chicago gave them a makeover to store rain water from rooftops for use in home gardens. Comparably priced in the regular market for over $90, this was a steal of a deal.
The lid has a piece of screen fitted to prevent mosquito larva and random roof debris from stewing in the barrel. There are three hose attachments: one at the top to direct overflow away from the barrel and home and one at the bottom to retrieve the stored water (which has a handy knob so it functions as a faucet). The third is also at the bottom, which I assume is to link it to another barrel to collect even more water. Here it is in the garage the day I picked it up from the Community Rain Barrel Event.
I had to work that night and many since on top of the ongoing family obligations, so we had time just this past weekend to get it put together. My Honey was getting more excited about it that even I was! He was the impetus behind our trip to Lowe’s to purchase a fitting and even handled the hacksaw to cut our downspout. He let me put it where I wanted. Here he is on rain barrel installation day one (not pictured: overflow return hose):
I thought this was the best place for it because it is about 5 feet taller than the garden, which meant I could hook up a hose and harness the cooperation of gravity. Because I located it on a hill, I dug holes for the back feet of the barrel stand, and then the front was uneven, so we steadied it with small thin rocks.
Of course, the next day came torrential rain and high winds. We were excited to see how much rain we had collected, but to our dismay we found the barrel had been knocked over possibly by wind or its own weight as it filled with water… or probably a combination of the two. There it lay, about 5 feet lower than it had before, lid removed and mostly empty. So we ended up moving it down to the lower level (where my very forgiving Honey had originally thought my scheme had placed it). We invested a dollar or so more in materials to fix the trauma to our downspout situation. Here I am with it on rain barrel installation day two:
In hindsight, much wiser to have it in a protected area. I won’t be able to use a hose from this site without a pump because it’s about the lowest spot on our property. But, I reasoned, I’ve been going to the front of the house in several trips to fill my bucket and watering can, so at least I won’t have such a trip to make for that. The picture above is misleading because there is an obvious hose, but that one is refilling the pool with water from our front faucet (which we open tomorrow!). The overflow hose is directly behind my left wrist and falls below just behind my body into a black vinyl pipe that leads off to my right, hidden behind some hostas and day lilies.
Now we are ready for more rain to see how our latest rig works!