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Using Rain Barrels to Survive Droughts

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.

Drip Irrigation
Drip Irrigation

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.

The Shoestring Gardener
The Shoestring Gardener

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.

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Incredible 12 sq ft “Backyard Pharmacy”
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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.

GARDENS BENEFIT CHILDREN


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