Rain Barrels

Now here’s a system that you may wish to consider.  I’ve used rain barrels for almost 40 years—not because I was trying to conserve water—but because Davis city water was so terrible.  It was so bad that the City was forced to obtain Sacramento River water.  You might have heard that Davis, UCD, and Woodland allocated millions of dollars on a river water project.  Our well water was so bad that even if not affected by users, the “clean” water could not be returned to the River.  It didn’t meet new environmental standards.

            Gardeners depended on the winter rains to push those toxic minerals down through the soil.  But if you had a planting area beneath eaves, or you had indoor plants, you had a problem.  So we used rain rain water from barrels for a long time to flush this soil.

            Lately though, I’ve been using rain barrels to divert water run-off from the roof from areas I don’t want water to areas that I do want extra water—specifically to the drip line of a huge hackberry tree, pine tree, and several citrus trees.  If a water diversion plan appeals to you, here is what you might consider doing:

  1. Remove a down spout. Cut off 18” from the top of the removed section.  Slip that short section back into place. 
  2. Purchase a thin 8 foot plastic down spout extender. I bought mine at Ace Hardware.  They are available at Amazon Prime for about $7.  
  3. Attach the end of the flexible tube not containing holes to the 18” section.
  4. Cut another 18” off of the original removed downspout. Attach this piece to the end of the flexible tube that is hanging down.  The piece of downspout that you just attached will simply serve as a weight to keep the plastic tube in whatever barrel or container you place it.  You may wish to cut off a section of the plastic tube.  My downspout extender does not reach the ground.  Don’t worry about the little holes punched in the side of the plastic tube—water loss will be minimal.
  5. Now you have a down spout extender that can be moved from barrel to barrel or to a wheelbarrow—whatever

Now if you want to get fancy:

  1. Drill a hole in the bottom of the side of your barrel or garbage can and buy a PVC fitting that create an attachment for a hose. Now you can lead the rain water where ever you want.  By adding a section of tubing like old soaker hose with holes drilled in it, you can disperse the water along a planting bed protected by an eave, or where trees need to be deep watered.
  2. Not fancy, but plug the other down spouts that are on that same gutter (a rolled up sock works well). Make sure that your gutter can bear the weight of being full.
  3. Have some kind of cover for your containers. We use an extra large size leaf bag.

Realize that your water containers are going to remain in place for a long time.  Elevation is also a consideration.  Gravity feed will not lead water to higher levels of your landscape, but a sump pump would.

Well, that’s the system I’ve used.  You might consider creating your own system not soley just to conserve water, but to transfer rain water from where you don’t want it to where you do want it.

 If you are still interested, google “rain barrels” and you will find a tremendous variety of productrs that are available.

Stan, The Tool (or Device) Man