A rain barrel is a container that captures and stores rainwater that has drained from a roof, preventing it from flowing off the property. The concept is quite simple. Instead of allowing free rainwater to wash away, collection barrels help conserve this roof runoff for later use on lawns, gardens or indoor plants.

Barrels attach easily to downspouts and usually range from 50 to 80 gallons. They have a spigot for filling watering cans and a connection for a soaker hose.

Here are 5 benefits of using eco-friendly rain barrels:

  1. Rainwater is better for your plants and soil because it is highly oxygenated. Use of rainwater in your garden makes plants more drought-tolerant, healthy and strong.
  2. You’ll save valuable drinking water and money on water bills. A typical gardener can save as much as 1,300 gallons of water during the growing season by using water collected in rain barrels. Landscape watering (lawns and gardens) typically accounts for more than half of a homeowner’s water use during the summer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
    You will also cut down on the amount of water that must undergo expensive and energy-intensive sewage treatments in your town, which could also impact your taxes.
  3. Rain barrels help you create your own water source — perfect in times of drought or watering restrictions. According to experts, one inch of rain will result in between 600 and 700 gallons of water running off a roof. Collecting even a portion of that will provide essential reserves necessary for maintaining a healthy garden during times of drought.
  4. Reduce runoff, pollution and erosion. When it rains, runoff picks up soil, fertilizer, oil, pesticides and other contaminants on the ground, and pushes them into other areas. These pollutants can increase algae growth in lakes, alter the habitat for fish and could even make lakes dangerous for humans. Catching water will stop some of this from happening.
  5. Create a fresh, green way to wash your cars. Rain water does not contain chemicals commonly found in tap water. It is free of calcium, chlorine and lime. It’s softer water, so it won’t hurt your car’s paint or damage or spot windows.

There is one more bonus benefit to collecting runoff water. Controlling how much water hits the ground will reduce the potential for flooding.

There are obvious benefits to rain barrels, but it’s also important to note that water collected in barrels is not for drinking, cooking or bathing.

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