Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

making rain WORK for me

It’s Spring, and with it comes seemingly endless rain.  We’ve decided to put the RAIN to work to save our family some money!

FACT: Lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer.

FACT: Residential water use increases 40-50% during summer months due to outdoor water use.

FACT: A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months.

FACT: One full 55 gal rain barrel can water a 4×10 garden for a whole week.

FACT: For every inch of rain that falls on a 1,000 square foot roof, you can expect to collect approx 600 gallons of rainwater!

FACT: Rainwater is naturally soft water.

FACT: Rainwater is FREE, all you need to pay for is something to store it in.  Enter the rain barrel.

FACT: We’re hoping to plant a garden this Spring (I better get crackin’, eh?), and the Feitners are “GOING GREEN” by using rain barrels!

QUESTION: Can I drink rainwater?

ANSWER: NO! It must be filtered first to remove possible contaminants from the roof, gutters, etc.  But rainwater is fabulous for your outdoor uses (obviously).  If you lose electricity, you probably could use rainwater to help flush your toilets.

QUESTION: What can I use rainwater for?

ANSWER: Vegetable garden – flower pots, border planting and shrubs – car washing and outdoor power washing or deck cleaning – hot tub refills – extra water reserve for fire protection and earthquakes.

QUESTION: How much rain water will I need to collect for “normal” use?

ANSWER: General guidelines for determining how much water you might use outside:

1 watering can = 3.3 gal. (15 L)
3 ft. shrub in hot weather (1 week) = 7 gal. (32 L)
18 in. pot in hot weather (1 week) = 1.8 gal. (8 L)
40 deck pots – drip water (1 week) = 50 gal (227 L)
1 sprinkler full flow (for 1 hour) = 240 gal. (1100L)
Car washing (1/2 hour) 120 gal. = (550 L)
Pressure washing (1/2 hour) = 40 gal. (180 L)

QUESTION: Can I leave the rain barrel out during the winter?

ANSWER: Yes, however it’s suggested that you empty the rain barrel and take it “off-line” so that water does not enter during this time.  You can simply turn upside down at the same location or store it somewhere else.  Water expands when it freezes, and you don’t want it to crack the barrel.

QUESTION: What type of maintenance is required?

ANSWER: The barrel will require periodic cleaning. A safe cleaning solution is 2 teaspoons of castile soap and 2 teaspoons of vinegar per gallon of water or 2 teaspoons of lemon juice per gallon of water.

QUESTION: What happens when the rain barrel is full?

ANSWER: There are two options.  Either excess water can be directed back into the downspout, or flow out through a run-off pipe.

QUESTION: How big are rain barrels?

ANSWER: They can range from about 40 gallons, up to 1,000+ gallons.  The average is 50 gallons, but the one in the photo is 850 gallons (and cost $450).

QUESTION: What’s the water pressure like coming out from a rain barrel.

ANSWER: The pressure will be less than what you get from a traditional tap water spigot, so “overspraying” your plants will be difficult.  To water perennials, place the end of the hose at the base of the flower bed.  Move the end of the hose every few minutes to reach different areas within the bed.  (Gardening Tip: “overspraying” is not recommended since it can promote certain plant diseases).  Also don’t forget that raising your rain barrel by placing it on a STURDY platform will increase the rate of flow.  This is because it flows with the force of gravity.

We’re planning to purchase at least one rain barrel in the next couple weeks, hopefully two or three.  How many will probably depend on if I end up selecting one based solely on price, or if aesthetics plays a role in my decision (like the faux-rock one pictured above).

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