Spring has finally sprung here in Minnesota, and it’s the perfect time to set up my rain barrels. My rain barrels have been in storage all winter, and I’ve really missed them. I’m excited to get to use them again!
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Before setting up a rain barrel, you’ll need to decide where to put it. Look at all of the downspouts on your house, shed or garage, and choose one that is in a location that’s easy to get to. The ground under the downspout should be fairly level, so consider that when selecting the spot for your rain barrel too.
You’ll also need a few tools for setting up a rain barrel. A level would be a very helpful tool to use to make sure the rain barrel is level. You will need to remove parts of the downspout, so grab a ladder and a screwdriver too.
How to set up a rain barrel
1. Remove the downspout. This is where the ladder and the screwdriver will come in handy. Find a seam in the gutter that is close to where the top of the rain barrel will be and simply unscrew the downspout to remove it.
2. Level the rain barrel. Once the rain barrel is full of water, it will get really heavy. You want it to be as level as possible so it won’t fall over. Place the rain barrel in the spot where it will sit to see how level it is. You may need to dig out or add soil to the spot to level out the rain barrel. Consider adding a couple of concrete blocks under the rain barrel to raise it off the ground and make it easier to get the water out. Elevating the rain barrel also helps with water pressure.
3. Add flexible downspout tubing to direct the rainwater into the rain barrel. Secure the tubing using the screws from the original downspout so it won’t blow away. You may need to drill or poke holes in the tubing in order to screw it to the gutter. Adjust the tubing so it empties into the rain barrel.
4. Control the overflow. My rain barrels have an overflow spout near the top. I don’t want the overflow valve to empty out next to the house, so I use a cut off piece of an old hose to control the overflow. At the bottom of this picture, you can see the hose goes into the hole where the original downspout drains normally. If you have concerns about water leaking into your basement, you can buy an attachment that will allow the excess water to flow through your gutter like it normally would, once the rain barrel is full.
That’s it! Setting up a rain barrel is really easy
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Here are a few other details about my rain barrels that might help you when you set up your rain barrel:
- If you live in a warm climate, your rain barrel can stay in place year round (although you may want to drain it and rinse it out a few times a year). But, if you’re in a cold climate like me, it needs to be drained and stored every the fall. To overwinter my rain barrels, I completely drain them and remove the spigots before freezing temperatures arrive. After emptying the rain barrel, I simply replace the section of downspout I removed in the spring.
- My rain barrels are the kind that fill up through the top, which is wide open. In order to keep the debris from the roof out, (and also keep mosquitoes from breeding in my rain barrels), I found some old screen material in the garage and cut it to fit over the opening, then I secured it under the lid.
- To make it easier for filling water jugs and watering, I use a cut off piece of old hose and attach it to the spigot on my rain barrel.
Do you have a rain barrel? Tell me about it in the comments below.