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Rain barrels can bring summertime savings

About 40 percent of your summertime water bill can be attributed to keeping your outdoor areas looking good. That’s a big reason why rain barrels are becoming a popular sight around the Upstate.

Many homeowners use rain barrels to help supplement watering their gardens, lawns and potted plants. Some folks do it with the intent of saving money. Others are trying to be more sustainable and reduce their ecological footprint. And some simply want to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Environmentally speaking, a town of 35,000 residents with just one rain barrel each could save over 40 million gallons of water from unnecessarily going through the water sewage system.

A 2,000 square foot roof will have a runoff of 1200 gallons of water during a one-inch rainfall. That means every square foot is giving off more than half a gallon of rainwater. Most people purchase one rain barrel which helps but think about this – one quarter inch of rainfall will fill up three full-sized barrels.

Rain barrel placement

Placement of rain barrels can be very important. Downspouts are the common locations and catch the most water. You can also utilize them in areas that may be causing problems for your house or landscape. For example, if there is foundation damage (or the potential of), a barrel placed in that area can help minimize the damage.

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A wash-out area of the yard also could be helped by the addition of a barrel or two. During heavy rain periods when barrels can overflow, use hoses attached at the top or the bottom to send the extra water to other areas of the yard.

Rain barrel camouflage

If you consider a rain barrel to be unsightly, here are some options: Plant a few medium to large size plants to hide it; Use an exterior plastic paint to beautify it; Use a rain chain to draw attention away from the barrel. Rain chains and rain barrels work well when used in tandem.

Mosquitos may be a concern, as well. Goldmine Rain Barrels at Carolina Garden World and some other brands have features to help control mosquitoes. For example, Goldmine barrels are screened on top to prevent large debris from entering and mosquitoes from laying eggs. If you already have a barrel with the little pests, get some mosquito dunks.

Ideas for overflow

During the rainy seasons when barrels are frequently overflowing, consider other uses for this water. Wash your car or your dog. Overflow also can be directed to a swimming pool to help combat evaporation. Bring rainwater inside to water your house plants or even use it to flush the toilet. Rainwater is better than tap water for all plants, especially when you consider the chlorine and other chemicals added to tap water.

For more information, check out this rain barrel class video from the Spartanburg County Extension Office of the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service.

About the Author

Tina Clark is the owner and president of Carolina Garden World in Spartanburg, SC. A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, Tina came to Upstate South Carolina in a job move then found her way to Spartanburg Community College where she completed a degree in horticulture. A frequent presenter at area civic organizations, garden clubs and schools, Tina is sustainability certified and organizes a free Sustainability Day event for the community at Carolina Garden World each year in celebration of Earth Day.


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