It may seem that purchasing a rain water barrel would be a straightforward task. But there are many questions to answer before making your final decision. Rain water barrels come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and materials. They also have many available features that you can choose to have or do without. From compact and easy to store, to cumbersome and decorative, learn a little more about the different types of barrels you can buy.
• can be purchased from a number of suppliers or be a make-at-home project.
• vary in size, usually from 20 gallons to 150 gallons. Larger structures can be designed and built, usually out of concrete or wood. Choice of size depends how
much water needs to be stored.
• can be made from wood (recycled oak or ash wine or whisky barrels), heavy plastic (recycled watertight food grade barrels) or ceramic. Many commercially
made rain barrels are molded heavy duty plastics. The wide array of choices of shapes, sizes, and colors allows for creativity when fitting barrels into garden
landscapes and homes’ design.
• are easily integrated into rain gardens, vegetable, flower, rock, or other gardens and green spaces; and
• can be linked together to multiple water capacity.
Metal rain barrels such as this steel rain barrel
are designed to hold very large amounts of rain water. Also, they can be formed into attractive shapes, textures, and colors, are easy to maintain, and durable in harsh climates. A typical house has a roof area of 1,200 square feet and four downspouts that will each drain about 300 square feet of roof. That means a rainfall of 0.3 inches will fill a 55-gallon rain barrel placed under each downspout – leaving you with 220 gallons of free water. When the drainage valve is later opened, the water can be emptied out slowly, thus reducing runoff and increasing infiltration, or directed to specific areas of grass, flowers, plants, etc.