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Rain Barrels and Rain Gardens

Page history last edited by Gardener 13 years, 4 months ago

Remember to save water in your home. When running the faucet to get hot or cold water, collect the water to use on your plants.  In PA, water that has been in contact with people (bath, shower, dishwasher) may not be used on plants. Info from Penn State article, How to garden during drought conditions.


Help conserve water by using rain barrels. There are many styles on the market. Home-made systems are also possible. Read How to Build and Install a Rain Barrel and How to Install a Rain Garden by the Center for Watershed Protection or Build Your Own Rain Barrel by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to learn how to make your own. Both are in PDF format so may take a moment to download. Making rain barrels is an involved process but if you are handy and have the appropriate tools you may attempt to make your own barrel. Read the Classes page to find area Rain Barrel Workshops sponsored by Penn State Cooperative Extension as well as area Conservation Districts.


Raising the barrel, on three pairs of level concrete blocks for instance, makes it easier to fill a watering can. Be sure to secure the rain barrel to prevent it from blowing over when empty. Nylon cleats securely attached to the house on either side of the barrel with nylon rope wrapped around the barrel is one method to use.


The barrel will oftentimes fill quickly, so providing a method for draining overflow water away from the house is an important part of any rain barrel system. It is possible to drain the overflow valve back into the existing gutter drainage system using tubing attached between the barrel overflow valve and the gutter downspot piece. You may also link barrels together but you still need to drain overflow water from the end barrel. Note rain barrel photos above.


Rain barrels may be available from Jason Winey at the Snyder County Soil Conservation District. View their Household Conservation page for details.


For details on the setup and use of one particular store brand of rain barrel please continue reading. There are many rain barrels on the market. Here is just one version to consider. The Great American Rain Barrel Company (TGARBC) sells a 60 gallon barrel that is easy to set up and use. You may opt to buy their "Save the rain diverter" shown in middle photo above to place in a downspout or use plastic tubing to connect the gutter to the barrel as noted in the above photos.


The lid on the TGARBC barrel unscrews for easy access to the inside of the barrel. The barrel also comes with a fine nylon mesh and plastic tray to help keep debris out of the water in the barrel. There are two mounting holes on the barrel, but you may find it easiest to screw the spigot into the bottom hole in order to use all the water collected in the barrel.



Rain Barrels: A Homeowner's Guide by the Hillsborough County Water Dept. in FL: http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/publications/files/rain_barrels_guide.pdf


Read Planting & Maintaining Your Rain Garden by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.


Rain Gardens - Northumberland County Conservation District; in office; brief.


Rain Barrel setup on side - Scroll down to see barrel photo; Snyder County Conservation District;


Water page includes further resources.

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