Rain Barrels and How to Set Them Up

Our rain barrels have been essential for helping the garden survive the drought in summer when we have long hot days.

rain barrels

It seems like we get too much rain in the spring and not enough in the summer. Storing the water until we need it just makes sense.

We use the barrels to fill old plastic one gallon milk jugs. We sit these around the garden with the lids on to grab quickly whenever something needs to be watered.

The barrels can also be used to control run-off, avoid flooded basements, and muddy soggy spots in the yard.

Some people set up a home irrigation system that runs tubes from the barrels, but we found a simpler solution.

Cheap Home Garden Irrigation System

On an episode of Sundays with Sonnewald, I got the idea to use milk jugs for time-release watering.

We poked a small hole in each bottom corner of the jug with a pushpin then sat them in the center of each garden area.

We pour water in the top, put the lid back on very loosely, and the plants receive a slow drip irrigation for a couple of hours!

One special tip: Put the lid on loosely. Otherwise the change in air pressure as the water flows out will cause the top of the jug to collapse and become deformed.

How to Set Up Rain Barrels

It's really easy to set up a system. It took us awhile to perfect ours, but you can gain from our experience by following these steps.

  1. Buy a nice barrel that includes a filter, spigot (some people say faucet), and spot for an overflow tube.
  2. Choose a spot to locate the barrel under a rain gutter downspout and create a level platform to sit it on so that it will be high enough to fit a milk jug under the spigot.
  3. Be sure to empty the barrel and remove the spigot before the water freezes in there for the winter or the plastic can become distorted and you will have a leak in the spring.

If you want to set up more than one, create platforms at different levels and connect tube between them at the overflow so the water goes from the highest to the lowest.

We've also tried hooking a garden hose to a barrel to make watering the garden go faster, and this works well when it's really full.

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