Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Now that the garden area is planned and clearing should begin soon, I need to move ahead with some other stuff for Spring plans.  With the new year here, and time for resolutions goals, I'm going to make this one of the must do things on the list:

Did you know that a 1000 square foot roof, with just 1/2 inch of rain, can provide you with 300 HUNDRED gallons of water?  With Houston's record breaking drought still ongoing, and worries it might persist into next year, we are strongly leaning toward getting a rain barrel, or perhaps even several. 

As you can see in this photo, this is the back corner (one of them anyway) of our house and we think it's the perfect spot to collect all the "free water" that falls from the sky.
Rain Barrel location?
The first thing we need to do is have gutters put on the house.  It's never had them.  Setting aside the water conservation advantages, since we just had the foundation repaired earlier this summer, it's best not to have water standing around the piers anyway.  Gutters are a necessity.

Here is a nice little graphic that shows how a rain barrel works:

If you click HERE, you will find an awesome little Rainfall Harvest Calculator.

Just put in your roof's length and width, the amount of rainfall, and it calculates how much water you can save from that rainfall.  You might be amazed at how much free water falls from the sky, even in a small rainstorm.

We haven't decided if we are going to buy a prefab barrel or make our own, there are instructions all over the Internet.  Of course I lean toward making our own because I love re-purposing things and doing DIY type stuff.

Another neat thing with them is that they can be linked together to increase the amount of water you can save.  We've got room for that too!

Here are two examples of more than one barrel linked together (or at least placed together).

You can even buy them ready to go at many places like this one at Home Depot.

They can also be painted, if you are so inclined, to bring out your artistic side.  Check this one out, so neat!
Here is a painted and decorated rain barrel picture I found online
This will be one of my early on projects now that we have the house back to ourselves. Well, I guess as soon as gutters go up would be the FIRST step, and then I'll work on the rain barrel project.  I guess I could have the barrels ready to go in the meantime, which might be a better process, then the gutters can be installed to match the height of the barrels.  Of course, as I will always do, once we start doing our own, I'll post step by step details of the process so that we can share with everyone.

UPDATE: Summer 2012 -  As those of you who follow the blog know, and for those who aren't here regularly, we didn't get to the garden project.  So we've put this project on our 2013 list.  Fingers crossed.  Check back soon!


  1. Love this! You want to avoid mosquito larvae and algae buildup. If using removable top barrel you can: install a screen on top of the barrel, add a couple of goldfish, drop in larvae dunks (repellent tablets) to avoid mosquito larvae.

    Use a dark colored barrel, avoid direct sunlight,and goldfish and dunls can also help avoid algae build up. You can also use clear water sachets.


  2. I forgot to comment on the goldfish. Not my recommendation if you have cats and there are raccoon's. Also the water might have a fishy odor.

  3. Tonya - Awesome info, thanks for sharing! I'm excited about getting this started. of course, gutters first. Sure would have been filled up after yesterday's rain!

  4. Hello! I just found your blog through a google search on rain barrels as it is my new year's resolution as well. I'm really glad I found you guys - wow you are living my DREAM!!

    We live in the lush gorgeous farmlands right outside of Portland, OR, but we currently live in a suburban neighborhood saving for our acreage we hope to get one day. I'm an avid gardener as well and I dug up our entire backyard and converted it into one big victory garden. Currently I teach organic vicotry garden classes to locals (I teach right in my backyard) to try to revive the movement. Portland is a great place to do this sort of thing.

    Anyway, just wanted to introduce myself and I look forward to reading about you. I read about your quest to find victory garden posters and here is a link to a local Portland artist that makes amazing posters - I have a few in my office! http://victorygardenoftomorrow.com/

  5. Shannan - Wow, thank you so much for the kind words! That's what we want, is to share the process, if you go back to about March of last year, you can see all the drama leading up to the closing, ha. Of course, a back injury, a record drought, and house problems kept us from moving along as fast as we had hoped. But I plan on starting the garden areas soon. Then flowerbeds and fruit trees and all sorts of fun. I'm jealous of you being in Portland, OR, what a beautiful place that is. I went back in the 90's with a friend who went to a medical conference there and I LOVED it.

    The "new" victory garden posters are awesome!! I was looking for something to put in the farmhouse (when we get to the point of decorating) and that might be a great idea. I love that idea.

    Awesome that you teach organic gardening. I joined your blog too, I can't wait to read all about your gardening adventures as well.

    Thanks for coming along with us on our journey.

  6. Excellent plan! With this ridiculous drought, it's just plain dumb not to save what water you can when it actually does rain.

  7. We have had rain barrels we made for about $25 a few years ago and have not had to use our hose once to water our garden. It is one of my favorite projects. We have the removable lid, cut wholes in the top with a hole saw and then covered the top with window screen and have never had a problem with mosquitos.

    1. Wow, that's a great recommendation. I'd love to not have to use hose water! I was worried about mosquitoes but it sounds like as long as you keep them covered with the mesh, you're good to go. Thanks for the advice!

  8. I have 3 rain barrelsin my yard & lots of 5gal buckets. the bucket have lids & the rain barrels are covered in mesh that is used for screening pool cages,porches this keeps mosquitoes out.2qts of rain water to each potted plant.

    1. Well we didn't get to these this year but that's on my list before next Spring. I've heard that rainwater is awesome to use for watering. I like the 5 gallon bucket idea too. Thank you for stopping by!!

  9. do you have to empty rain barrels in the winter. Do they freeze

    1. Yes, if you have prolonged cold spells and freezing temperatures they will freeze. If they are long freezing periods, it's best to drain it and store it away for Spring. If the freezes are like they are here, maybe a few times a season and only for a day or two at a time, you can cover them with a blanket or some sort of insulation method. You can also keep them dark colored to absorb heat, and place them on South facing walls to help as well.

      But if you get snow on a regular basis, I'd make sure it was emptied, it would definitely freeze and the expansion could damage your barrel.

      Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

  10. Where do you find barrels if you want to make your own?

    1. If you live near a major town or city with restaurants, you can call around and ask if they have leftover barrels from various foods like pickles, olives, peppers, etc. There are also barrels that are used for soft drinks. The advantage is that you know they are food grade so they are safe for holding water to put on your garden. Craigslist is another option of course or your local want ads. I've had some friends tell me they posted something at their local feed store bulletin board and got some. A last suggestion is to see if your town or nearby city has a rain barrel building program (many many cites and town do this).

      If you find some via another method do share and if any of our readers come up with some more ideas, please share!

      Thank you for stopping by!

  11. I love it! That rain barrel is definitely eye-catching. Aside from the aesthetic charm it provides, it’s also a cost-effective, convenient, and environmental tool for saving money and water. Good job, guys!

  12. When you get to working on rain barrel project please feel free to contact me. I'd be happy to guide you to the correct designs for your application. While many designs might look pretty good many have hidden flaws/defects in their design - we see it all the time :-( http://www.aquabarrel.com/index.php


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