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To Buy or DIY, That Is the Question: What Is the Best Option for Your First Rain Barrel?

Many homeowners are going green by finding crafty ways to create cost-efficient and environmentally friendly homes. Rain barrels are one of the ways to do this and have become more common in recent years. Yard Care Gurus want to make sure you have the information you need to decide whether to buy or build your own rain barrel that is the most cost-effective, quality rain barrel setup.

First, let’s go over what a rain barrel is and why they are useful.

To Buy or DIY, That Is the Question: What Is the Best Option for Your First Rain Barrel?
What Is the Best Option for Your First Rain Barrel?

What Is a Rain Barrel?

Rain barrels are barrels set up to catch the rainfall to use at your disposal. They are usually dark in color to help stop the growth of algae. Rain barrels help decrease runoff, save you some money on your water bill, and gives your plants softer water to grow with.

The water caught in a rain barrel can be utilized for several different things such as washing your car, filling up a small pond, watering plants, cleaning tools, cleaning the outside of your house, and so much more! The water has fewer chemicals in it than water from the faucet, which is much better for your plants. This is not drinking water, however, unless you attach a filtration system to it.

 Most rain barrels are set up under your existing downspout, near the site the water will be used. You will need to cut the downspout accordingly in order to fit the barrel underneath. They have screens on top to catch debris as well as to keep pesky bugs out of the water.

So, if you like saving money, being environmentally friendly, and giving your plants the natural water they were meant to have, then a rain barrel is for you! It is important to check your local regulations as some areas have banned the use of rain barrels.

To get you started, let’s get into the cost-effectiveness and labor differences of your rain barrel options.

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DIY Rain Barrel

When you are building your own rain barrel you need to gather your supplies. These consist of a barrel, watertight sealant, spigots, some washers, a screen, a drill, a saw, and bricks or wood. If you are wanting to install more than one barrel and connect them you will also need some hose.

Many sites explaining how to build your rain barrel will suggest using a barrel that is food grade. However, several have just opted for trash cans. If you decide to use a second-hand barrel, being aware of what was in it previously is very important. You don’t want to use a barrel that had hard chemicals stored in it as it could damage your plants as well as harm you.

The cost of doing it yourself is around $15-50. This will vary depending on the cost and size of your barrel and how many spigots you want. If you want a more aesthetically pleasing barrel the cost could be much more. Cost is also increased if you want your barrel in an enclosure. Many people choose to build a wooden enclosure to hide a not so aesthetically pleasing, but cost-effective, barrel.

You also need to have the barrel off the ground to use the spigot at the bottom to get your water. Depending on how high you want it or what you want to fit under it to collect the water, the materials to accomplish this could increase cost. There are several kits you can buy at your local hardware store to use with a barrel that could also increase cost.

The one downside to DIY is the labor involved. Building your rain barrel may only take a couple of hours if nothing goes wrong. It gets more complicated if you add more than one barrel with a hose system between them, but is completely possible to accomplish.

If you like to tinker and build things, this may be the way to go.

Store-bought Rain Barrels

If you choose to go the store-bought route, the barrel usually comes ready with the spout at the bottom, the overflow spout at the top, screens, and the hole for water intake. Depending on how you want to connect your downspout, you might have to buy additional parts.

There are several benefits to buying ready-made rain barrels. They usually have many styles to choose from, giving you options to match your landscaping style. There is little labor involved, but you still have to set up the barrel on your stand, cut or drill into your downspout and connect hoses. Many barrels come with a warranty to give you more protection if something springs a leak or doesn’t work properly.

The cost for ready-made barrels varies due to the vast selection of styles and sizes available. The average is $70-$300. The cost is even more if you have to buy kits to link more barrels or modify your downspout. This could be a major downside if cost is a factor, especially if you want to catch large amounts of water.

To decrease cost, make sure to find a barrel that already comes with most of the system and connection kits you want. If the cost is most important, this could mean giving up the style you want. Don’t forget, you will still need to place your barrel off of the ground.

Rain barrels are great for conserving water and decreasing erosion, especially in high rain areas. For people who want to save on cost and have a day of tinkering, a DIY rain barrel is a way to go. Depending on style preference and homeowner regulation, this option can still get costly but overall seems to be more cost effective but time-consuming. For those who value time over cost, and want a warranty for their barrels, may go with a store-bought barrel. Whatever your choice, you will be on your way to saving money and helping the environment.

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