I live in an area that is prone to drought. There have been many times that water has been rationed. Watering your garden or washing your car was strictly prohibited. Any use of water other than for hygiene and consumption was prohibited as well, and those households found over-using water were fined.

Water is also a public service in most areas. It is not free and every month you pay a water bill for your consumption. What if I told you there was an easy way to cut down your water bill and still have water for your garden during a rationing situation? There is. Building your own rain barrel can be the answer.

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a rainwater collection device. You can purchase them commercially and they work wonderfully, but they are also surprisingly easy to make on your own. A quick trip to the hardware store and you are on your way to your own water collection device.

How do you build a rain barrel?

You will need a large plastic barrel, a screen to go over the top, and a faucet to add to the bottom of the barrel. Viola, instant rain barrel.

How do you use a rain barrel?

Place the barrel under your house where you typically have runoff water. The barrel will catch the water running off the house and collect it inside. Rain barrels are win-win situations. Your garden is getting all the water it needs during a rain storm. The ground will remain damp for several days. The barrel can then be used when you are a in a draught situation and would normally use tap water.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 40% of water consumption in the summer months is for lawn and garden watering. That is a lot of water. We could conserve 40% of our summer water consumption if everyone were to use rain barrels. This is fantastic for the environment, but also great on your wallet. Water from the rain barrels can also be used for washing your cars or windows.

Note: Never drink water from the barrels. The water is not to be used for cooking or drinking. Marking your barrel as “not for drinking” is also good for visitors so they know this is not drinking water.

Using a rain barrel can keep your garden looking great even through the long summer months. Do you utilize a rain barrel? If so, what tips and tricks do you have for the newbie rain barrel user?