As well as collecting free water a rain barrel or water butt can bring other benefits to your garden.
Plants will prefer rain water and it’s a better alternative to tap water when topping up a pond. Watering a garden is a lot easier from a rain barrel than continual trips indoors to refill the watering can.
How much water do they hold?
There are quite a lot of different size rain barrels but they usually range from slim line 100 litres barrels to very big 1200 litre containers.
Do they all resemble a barrel?
The traditional barrel shape has been with us a long time. However it is now possible to buy decorative and stylish containers. These can be anything from a large clay pot to a roman column.
Assembling a rain barrel or water butt
Because of the risk of breaking the protruding tap, some rain barrels will need the tap fitted when you get home. Whilst this sounds easy it can be awkward and is better assembled with two people.
Before you start you will need a spanner which fits the nut which needs to go inside the barrel and hold the tap on.
The next stage is where you will require the extra person. Lay the barrel down with the tap hole at 90 degrees to the ground. Push the tap into the hole, now the other person needs to get inside the barrel to put the nut and sealing washer on the tap thread.
When its hand tight, with the person on the outside holding the tap in position tighten the nut with the spanner. Remember these are plastic so you don’t want to overdo the tightening.
Connecting directly to a down pipe
If you decide to connect straight to your down pipe, you will need to put a hole in your barrels lid. (Usually these are marked ready for cutting). You will also need to put an over flow on the side of the barrel which will need to go to a drain.
Installing a downspout diverter or rain diverter
You may want to install a downspout diverter also called a rain diverter. We have a guide on how to install a downspout diverter with pictures and tips here.
Tips for Rain Barrels
When you have finished installing your rain barrel make sure the tap is definitely in the ‘off’ position.
If you have children go for a rain barrel with a child proof lid.
If you intend to keep water in your barrel in the winter, put a tennis ball or two in your rain barrel. This will allow for ice expansion in the winter and help your plastic barrel not to split.