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Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Capturing Rainwater for Drier Days

Rain barrels capture and store water for later use.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking about my garden's water needs.  I have shared some watering basics and mulching basics here at The Full Circle Gardener, and tips for water conservation in my guest post for Tip Junkie.  Now I am turning my attention to capturing rain water for use later.  What could be better than storing free water to use later when it is less abundant!?! :)

Right now North Dakota is not experiencing a shortage of rainfall and it is hard to imagine needing to supplementary water my garden.  While regionally we are dealing with an over abundance of rain, other areas of the country are in the midst of droughts.  Finding a way to capture and store this scarce commodity during a drought has more urgency, but in either case, it is valuable and a worthy garden endeavor!

The easiest way to capture rainwater is in a barrel located at the bottom of a downspout on your home.  Rain barrels can be large or small, elaborate or simple, purchased or homemade.  The key is that they hold water.  Water that can be accessed and used to hydrate flowers and veggies later when the soil is dry.

Here are a few important points to keep in mind.

1.  Select your site carefully.
-choose a flat stable surface; you don't want it to tip over
-if possible choose a shady location to reduce solar heating (you don't want to cook your plants with hot water!)
-can you mask it from view or does that matter?

2.  Select your barrel(s) and any features you want.
-are you going to purchase or make your own?
-how big of a barrel do you want?
-how many barrels do you want?
-is a water valve important to you or will you dip out water?
-a screen or cover of some sort is a MUST HAVE for child safety!

3.  Safety always comes first!!!  (I cannot stress this enough!!)
-Your barrel must be stable so that it will not tip over and injure someone.  One gallon of water weights over 8 lbs.  When you multiply that by say, 50 gallons.... you get over 400 lbs.  Not something you want on top of your child or yourself.
-It takes very little water for a child to drown & they seem to be drawn to water, so be sure that you can keep them out! 

I have two homemade water barrels set under the water spout on the north east side of our home.  They are somewhat hidden from view and shaded by my lilac bush.  My barrels are simple and are not pretty, but they still accomplish my goal of storing water for use later in my containers, beds and even in my compost bin.  I have frequently thought about adding more barrels in other locations, but that is a project for another summer.  (Is there ever an end of dream projects?)

Next week I will share with you how we made our rain barrels and the upgrades that I hope to do this summer.

Happy Gardening! :)

Other Post in this Series:
Garden Watering Basics
Mulching Basics
Capturing Rainwater for Drier Days
Thinking Through Making Your Own Rain Barrel


  1. I love it! My only concern is with breeding mosquitoes in that, so I may have to find someway to have a spout pour in some sort of cover hole. I can't even leave an upturned frisbee in the back yard without worrying about making more of those suckers! I LOVE that your barrels are hanging out with the lilacs. :)

  2. Michelle, mosquitoes are an issue for me too. At this point I am using a larva-cide to prevent breeding, but I am wanting to make some changes (upgrades) that will hopefully address that issue. My first step was start saving the water (& money) and now that I have the basics I can work on the 'issues'. Good luck in your water saving endevors! :)

  3. Thank you for the tips! Not only is rainwater good in hydrating crops and flowers, but it indeed saves you a lot in water and electricity bills. With that cause, I hope that more people would adapt this practice of conserving rainwater. Sharon @


I would love to hear your gardening comments and/or questions.