A rain barrel is a water tank which is used both to collect rain water runoff, usually transferred from rooftops through rain gutters. Harvesting rain water in this way can yield 623 gallons of water from approximately 1,000 square feet of roof. Rain barrels serve many purposes:
- Collecting rainwater for a later use
- Reducing the use of the main water source for both economic as well as environmental reasons
- Assisting people to be self-sufficient
- Storing water to be used later for flushing toilets, watering gardens, and agricultural use
- Storing water to use for washing cars, in washing machines, and for drinking when alternate water supplies are of poor quality, or they are too expensive
The initial cost of installing a high quality rain barrel may appear to be too expensive. However, the usefulness of collected and stored rainwater in smaller rain barrels is immediately apparent. Barrels can be recycled from food storage use or from wine and whiskey aging barrels. They have a wide range of uses. They are perfect for harvesting smaller quantities of water for gardening or landscape applications instead of using potable water. In hot arid climates, rain barrels are frequently used for the storage of water during the rainy season in anticipation of upcoming dryer periods. There are underground rain barrels that are used for temporary retention of stormwater that will be released at some time in the future.
If the rainwater is being collected for drinking, it should be filtered first, using a variety of method such as ultraviolet sterilization, reverse osmosis, and ultrafiltration. Most barrels are constructed to screen out mosquitoes, but other contaminants may enter pure rain water during the collection phase. Perhaps the most important use of rain barrels is for augmenting the water supply for yards and lawns in areas where there are water shortages and droughts.
Many cities, including Los Angeles, are giving away 55 gallon rain barrels to residents, with the goal of collecting rain water that can be used for watering gardens and lawns. There are a number of grass seed products that are especially formulated to be drought resistant. Jonathan Green and Sons Drought Tough Grass Seed has been developed to grow both in drought conditions and in low moisture. Using this grass seed will allow customers to grow beautiful lawns that require one fourth as much water than other traditional turf grasses do. If you're collecting water in rain barrels, you will be able to still grow green lawns in areas where water conservation is mandated. Jonathan Green Drought Tough Grass Seed will grow a uniformly colored lawn of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescues, in areas having high temperatures and drought conditions.
Another grass seed mix that resists heat, extreme humidity and drought is Scotts Turf Builder Heat Tolerant Blue Mix. Because this mix requires four hours of full sunlight and watering several times a day, it is an ideal candidate for using rain barrel water. Using San Antonio, Texas, as an example, there is an ordinance requiring residential builders to only install turfgrass that has summer dormancy capabilities, which means that these lawns can survive with very little or no H2O. Turfgrasses that are approved include Zoysia grass, buffalo grass, Bermuda and St. Augustine grass, Bahia grass, and fescues. Customers who plant these varieties of grass and harvest rainwater instead of using tap water or other forms of irrigation, are being environmentally friendly at the same time that they can still enjoy growing a beautiful and vibrant green lawn.