Rain barrels a good way to keep your yard green

By: Frank Waugh Email
By: Frank Waugh Email

The dry start to the summer meant garden hoses were running, and running up your water bill. While the damage to your plants may already be done there may be a way you can keep your garden and wallet a little greener the next time the sky shuts off.

“They are easy to hook up, they are easy to use, you have no fuss, it is just running a downspout over to it,” says Steve Ruby a Landscape Architect with The Troyer Group.

Landscape Architect, Steve Ruby is talking about a not so high tech solution to water conservation, a rain barrel.

“The barrel obviously is a resource, it saves on potable water use that saves on your water bill your utility bills,” says Ruby. “When you hit dry periods within a season you can use that water to then irrigate your lawn without having to turn on an irrigation system.”

Here is how it works.

“It runs down your downspout or some kind of connection device to the barrel itself, from there it goes through a filter that sits on top of the barrel,” says Ruby. “The barrel itself has a covered lid to keep debris out to keep other insects and mosquito out. From there you have the barrel and the container itself that holds all the water.”

When Michele Lankford needs water from her barrel she simply opens the faucet to fill her watering cans.

“We were thrilled at the very beginning, a couple of rains and it was full and what more can you ask for it feels like a water savings account,” says Michele Lankford a rain barrel user.

That savings account filled up quick. A typical house with a 1,200 square foot roof will drain about 750 gallons of water for every inch that falls. South Bend averages about 40 inches of precipitation per year, that's 30,000 gallons of run off from your roof.

A rain barrel keeps unnecessary rain from going into the sewer and it give you a place to store it until you can use it on your yard.

“I always love to look out and check after the rainfall to see if we are back up to level and it almost always is,” says Lankford. It is wonderful.”

Michele says the banked rain water is better for her plants since it doesn't contain chlorine and it is better on her wallet since it is free. And get this; it doesn't even have to be raining to add water to the bucket.

“Sometimes you can get residue from a heavy dew that will settle into your gutters and start to fill it gradually, a lot of people forget about that,” says Ruby “That occurs in the evening hours when dew condenses onto hard surfaces, and then runs down, so you can actually fill it during a drought period even when there is less moisture in the air.”

Conserving a valuable resource in a year that has brought many brown yards and high water bills to the area.

“It is for all the right reasons, it saves you on your water bills and doing the right thing for the environment,” says Lankford.

Steve says a simple rain barrel will set you back about $100, but that cost can be easily recouped in water savings. And, if you would like to purchase a rain barrel they are available at the St. Joseph County Soil and Water Conservation District.


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