Got Rain? Recycle it!
Now that the rainy season’s here, have you thought about capturing some of that rainwater and using it around the yard? It’s a great way to conserve tap water while hydrating your plants with heaven-sent moisture. It also reduces storm water runoff, keeping fertilizers, street oils, and other pollutants from washing into our waterways.
A good, old-fashioned rain barrel is the best way to recycle the rain. You can buy them at the big-box hardware stores, or you can save money and make your own! All you need is a heavy-duty plastic container, a few extra parts, and the right tools.
Make Your Own Rain Barrel
First you’ll need to find a heavy plastic food-grade barrel. Check with local food service businesses for drums used to transport olives, pickles, and juices. Commercial car washes are another source; they get liquid soap in large barrels. Be sure to wash and rinse the inside of your recycled barrel thoroughly.
Next you install a spigot in the barrel, build a platform for easy access to the spigot, and reconfigure your gutter downspout to funnel rainwater into the barrel. Watch the step-by-step process in this short video from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and for even more details, download the District’s free booklet.
Rain can accumulate fast in a state like Florida: officials estimate that a typical half-inch rainfall will fill a 50-gallon barrel. So it’s a good idea to put an overflow outlet or pipe near the top of your rain barrel, and perhaps divert the overflow to a second container.