July 25, 2009 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Diagram courtesy of Green Home Huddle
Lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer months. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, a rain barrel can potentially save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months.
A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from rooftops to use later for garden watering. Water collected in a rain barrel would normally pour off your roof directly or flow through roof gutter downspouts and become stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is the leading type of residential non-point source pollution. Saving water not only helps protect the environment, it saves you money and energy (decreased demand for treated tap water). Diverting water from storm drains also decreases the impact of runoff to streams. A rain barrel is an easy and free way to have a consistent supply of clean, fresh water for outdoor use.
Here are some that prove that sustainable can also be stylish, even witty:
Hero 365 by Toronto design firm Hero
With the Cascata Urn (below), you almost forget it’s a rain barrel.
Cascata Rain Barrel Urn with Crown Planter in terracotta, $249 at Woodland Direct
Traditional Planter Designs
Quad, available at composters.com
Madison Rain Catcher, composters.com
Round Spruce 67 Gallon, composters.com
Not So Traditional Designs
They come in all shapes and sizes. For those of you with an appreciation of the bottom line, Hemingway Design created these for Straight plc:
The WaterStone Rain Barrel with Gutter diverter Kit is $99.99 from Home Depot
‘Quercus’ is a quirky water barrel made from the polyester/fiberglass cast of a 150 year-old oak tree trunk. As the designers say that the tree was waiting to be sawn, I’m assuming it was not cut down for this purpose, but…
Decorate Your Own
You can even commission an artist, such as Sheree from the studio Watercolorplus, to custom decorate your rain barrel:
But if you really want to be “green,” make your own rain barrel: