Rain Barrel 101

Last year's big resolution was compost, compost, compost! This is the year of the rain barrel. For months I've researched, shopped, and admired other rain barrel set-ups, like Sincerely Emily's.

I spent months agonizing over what rain barrel was right for me. Almost every home improvement store carries them, and so does Amazon. But I wasn't satisfied. One afternoon I did an Internet search for "Maryland Rain Barrels" and something new popped up: Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center. Arlington Echo is just 30 miles from my neck of the woods and sits right on the Severn River in Millersville, Md.

Arlington Echo is part of the Anne Arundal County School System and offers so much to the kids and residents in the area. They cover everything from composting, camps, rain barrels, bay restoration, environmental studies, green roof, and so on. It is an amazing place. after reading about their rain barrel making process, and their programs, I knew this is where I wanted to buy my barrels from. So two weeks ago I placed my order online, and the rest is history!

Setting up the rain barrels was fairly simple but having my handy husband made this so easy I didn't have to do much more than supervise. I'm a mama, gardener, cook, athlete, but not a handy-woman. Not at all. Here's how we set it up:

1. Figure out the best location & closest down-spout. Though our county is "green", many HOAs don't like rain barrels or composting, or, or, or...you get the drift. So our barrels are under the deck and are also shielded by a beautiful privacy screen.

2. Put on Gloves!

3. Remove a part of the downspout, we used tin snips, and fasten the new flexible downspout with a tiny galvanized (rustproof) screw on each side.

4. Elevate the barrels - gravity is your friend - using cinder blocks or pavers 5. If you have 2 barrels, connect them with the feeder tube, the second barrel should be lower than the first

6. Feed the overflow tubes into your drainage spout 7. Make any final adjustments 8. Insert screens, these should be rinsed often 9. Make sure all nozzles and faucets are closed


And - just in time. Ten minutes later we had a storm blow through. In just a few minutes the rain started to fill the tank! The entire process took 2 people, one handy and one not, 35 minutes to install the rain barrels.

Not only will my garden reap the benefits of rain water on a sunny day, but my water bill will be a little smaller this summer!