Using Rain Barrels to Survive Droughts

If you’re a gardener that has an unlimited supply of water, consider
yourself lucky. There are many of us who live in drought zones where the
garden and lawn watering rules are very constrictive to the healthy growth
of gardens and plants. Many people just give up when they find out how few
gallons of water they are permitted to use, but some of us have just found
ways to cope with less water. There are many ways to optimize ones garden
to conserve water while still keeping it lush.

Some of the ways include drip irrigation (the use of a pipe or hose with
small holes to gradually seep into the roots of the plant), the placement
of plants in groups of equal watering needs (to prevent wasting water on
plants that don’t need it), and using compost or mulch to insulate the
water and prevent drainage.

But one of the best ways to keep your garden alive during a drought is to
take preventative measures. Occasionally a drought will be predicted far
in advanced, or those already experiencing a drought will be given a few
weeks of heavy rain. When this occurs, you should take the opportunity to
set up several rain barrels. Many people think this would be a time
consuming, silly thing to do. But it can save you many gallons of water,
and hardly requires any work.

Finding the barrels will probably be the hardest part. You can use your
own garbage cans, or head to your home improvement store to get a few 55
gallon plastic drums. These can be expensive and difficult to transport,
so keep that in mind before you go to the store. You will probably want to
cover the top of the barrel with a screen of some sort to filter out any
unwanted leaves or debris that might fall off the roof of your house.

Once you have your barrels ready, you’re faced with the decision of where
to place them. Usually during rainfall, there is one corner or segment of
the house that rain tends to pour off of. If you are taking the simple
approach to barrel placement, just place the barrel under all the places
where you see large amounts of drips. However, while this might be the
easiest way to place them, you won’t see very high volumes of rain in the
barrels.

If you want to take a more complicated approach to placing the barrels,
you should consider tweaking your gutter system a bit. If you remove each
individual segment and place it at a very slight slant so that all the
water is diverted to the nearest corner of the house, you can place a rain
barrel at each corner. So essentially your entire house acts as a catcher
for the rain, instead of just a few feet worth of shingles. This is how to
maximize the amount of water your rain barrel will catch.

After a heavy rainfall, each individual barrel probably won’t see very
much rain. If it looks like it won’t be raining more any time soon, it’s a
good idea to empty each barrel into one main central barrel. Seal it and
save it out of the way, for whenever you may need it. Then the next time
it starts to rain, you’ll be able to quickly put all your catching barrels
into place without having to lug around all the water you’ve accumulated
so far.

The use of water barrels might sound like an antiquated idea. However,
when you’re in the midst of a drought and you’re able to spare that extra
couple of gallons for your garden in addition the city allotment, you’ll
be grateful for every bit of time and money you spent on collecting all
that rain. All it takes is a few trips out in the backyard every time it
starts to sprinkle, and you’ll be a very happy gardener when water isn’t
so abundant.

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