Water conservation is something that should concern all of us, especially now that the heat of summer is slapping us right in the face. Where I live, at least, July is very hot, dry, and windy, with occasional thunderstorms that don’t quite provide sufficient water for garden plants. That means lots of watering to keep plants alive, which, in turn, leads to an increased drain on water resources and on wallets when the water bill comes. The town where I live enforced emergency water restrictions for the whole month of June, nixing all outdoor watering for the entire month. Yikes! Bad news for those of us who grow large gardens. Needless to say, yards and gardens around here look terrible, if they survived at all. Luckily we got a few heavy rainstorms over the last week of the month that at least kept most of my plants alive, if not thriving.
Of all the ways to conserve water, catching rainwater is probably one of the easiest, and small water catchment systems are very inexpensive to implement. This DIY rain barrel from Just Measuring Up is a great example of what you can build from basic materials without spending a boatload of money. You’ve probably seen the rain barrels that attach to downspout gutters and catch rain that runs off a building. I have one like that, and it’s great. But what I love about this idea is that it doesn’t attach to anything; it simply catches rain in the upside down trash can lid and stores it in the barrel. It can sit right in the garden, eliminating the need to drag long hoses across the yard.
The process of making this rain barrel is straightforward and materials can be found at about any hardware store. First, holes were drilled into the lid of the trash can and mosquito screen was duct taped over the holes (you don’t want your water reservoir to become a mosquito nesting ground!). Next, a spigot valve was installed near the bottom of the barrel through another drilled hole. Then electric wire was used to secure the lid to the trash can through several small drilled holes. Finally, the barrel was secured with bungee cord to a heavy wood base, which serves to keep the barrel elevated enough to fill a bucket or watering can under the spigot. The base was built with scrap wood from another project.
This is an excellent concept for a DIY rain barrel. If you have a very large garden, you can always build more than one so you can save as much of that rain water as possible when it comes! Get detailed step-by-step instructions on how to make this rain barrel and base at Just Measuring Up.
Images via Just Measuring Up