Your Green Home: Installing a Rain Barrel

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YORK REGION – With the memory of 2013’s epic GTA rainstorm still fresh in area residents’ minds, more and more Greater Toronto homeowners are looking towards creative solutions for managing excess storm water.

With households across Canada beginning to take interest in chemical-free gardening, many eco-friendly homeowners are turning to the humble rain barrel – a centuries-old technology – to help manage excess precipitation.

Why Bother with Rainwater Collection?

During a heavy summer rain, whatever precipitation doesn’t get absorbed on your own property ends up becoming “runoff,” draining into local sewers. Unfortunately, when that runoff inevitably makes it to local waterways and basins, it can become an environmental nuisance – contributing to pollution, erosion, and even flooding.

While planting a rain garden can greatly help manage water that falls onto the lawn, many homes’ downspouts simply deposit rooftop precipitation right out into the sewers via a downspout. By incorporating an inexpensive rain barrel between your downspout and the ground, any homeowner can help ease stress on the sewer system (and local water basins).

In addition to easing stress on the sewer system, rain barrels offer several direct benefits to their eco-friendly owners:

  • The rainwater each barrel collects is free of the chemical additives, such as chlorine and fluoride, used to treat the water that comes out of your tap. While collected rainwater is not safe to drink, its relative purity is prized by devotees of the organic gardening movement.
  • Using collected rain to water plants will help lower reliance on water from the hose and tap – helping keep household water costs down. Homeowners are also free to use their own collected rainwater anytime, even in an event of municipal restrictions on outdoor water use.
  • Basic rain barrels, made from rugged plastics and designed with helpful features like overflow hoses and debris screens, can be purchased for less $100. Some municipalities even offer programs through which local residents can purchase barrels at cost – a great value when you consider their benefit over the long term.

Selecting and Installing Your Perfect Rain Barrel

If you’re looking for a rain barrel and working with a decent budget, you can head to any major garden centre – such as Lowe’s or Canadian Tire – where you should be able to peruse a wide range of rain barrels with different styles and features.

Some higher-end barrels, such as those found in Algreen Products’ stylish line, boast helpful features like spigots and built-in planters. These are a fantastic option for discerning decorators, who want to achieve the benefits of rainwater collection without sacrificing aesthetics.

When it’s time to install, each barrel will have its own instructions. Generally, installing a rain barrel involves removing the lower portion of your existing downspout, then re-attaching the elbow component so that it flows into the barrel.

Most barrels will come with an overflow hose, designed to route water out during heavy rainfall. When setting up, you’ll want to make sure that the hose is diverting water away from your garden.

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