Often by this point of the summer, central Indiana lawns and landscapes are beginning to look a little brown as the rainy days of late spring and early summer give way to the dryer, hotter, dog days of August. This year has certainly been a little atypical, to say the least. Rainfall in the city of Indianapolis during the month of July measured 13.13 inches, passing the record set in July 1875 by one-hundredth of an inch. Indianapolis has been hit hardest by the rain in July — other parts of the state have received less than half as much.

But the only thing that is certain about central Indiana weather is that it will change. A wet July doesn’t guarantee the same ample rainfall for the rest of the summer. Why not take advantage of the times of plenty? To some extent, it’s possible to “store up” the rain for dryer times with a rain barrel.

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is simply a vessel (often a 55-gallon barrel) used to capture rain water that would otherwise be lost to storm drains and streams. Typically, the water is collected from the roof of your home via the gutter system, which is diverted into the barrel instead of the ground. Rather than being lost to runoff, the collected water can be used to for lawn and landscape watering and irrigation.

The mechanism consists of the barrel, or collection vessel, a hose for dispensing the collected water, and a grate or screen to filter debris. You can build your own rain barrel system with parts purchased at a hardware store, or purchase complete kits, most for under $100, some as low as $40.

What are the benefits of collecting rain water?

Water Conservation

The most obvious benefit of collecting rain water for use in lawn and landscape care is that it reduces the water used from your home’s tap or well. Water that would otherwise be wasted is put to good use. Additionally, homeowners can save a great deal of money by collecting rain water. Watering of lawns, landscape, and gardens accounts for around 40% of water consumption in the average home during the summer months according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

A one-half inch rainfall is enough to fill a 55-gallon rain barrel in most cases. Use of multiple barrels significantly eases reliance on the city’s water supply.

Money Savings

After the initial investment in the kit or supplies, rain water collected in a rain barrel is FREE, greatly reducing utility bills for homeowners and businesses.

Healthier Plants and Soil

Tap water contains many inorganic ions and added fluoride which, over time, can change the make-up of the soil has the potential to harm plants and roots. Rain water doesn’t contain these elements and is healthier for your lawn, plants, and soil.

Reduction in Harmful Runoff

Not only is runoff rain water wasted, it is potentially harmful to the environment. Before being diverted into the storm drains and streams, rain water picks up pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, and other foreign contaminants. These elements eventually make their way into the streams and lakes where they encourage algae growth and alter the habitat of aquatic life. Sometimes, the pollution is enough to make the water inhospitable to life and dangerous for recreational use. Capturing the rain water before it has the chance to carry these pollutants into the ecosystem helps protect our environment.

Some Things to Consider

An effective rain barrel should include a screen to keep debris out of it. A rain collection system should also have a very tight-fitting lid to prevent mosquito breeding or buildup of algae. To avoid introducing contaminants that run off of your roof into the rain barrel, you might drain some of the water in the bottom of the barrel instead of using it to water your lawn or landscape. And if your roof shingles contain asbestos, you should NOT collect runoff water from your roof for use in landscape.

Additionally, even though the rain water you collect is ideal for your lawn and landscape, it is not suitable for human consumption. Children should be instructed not to drink water from the rain barrel.

Landscape Solutions Green Mission

At Landscape Solutions, our mission goes far beyond keeping your property well-manicured and beautiful. We also want to protect the soil, air, and ecosystem and provide all of our services in an environmentally responsible way. We have invested significantly in alternative fuel technology, less harmful chemicals, and environmentally conscious methods. We also seek any opportunity to educate others on how they, too, can have a positive impact on the environment we all share.

Taking steps such as utilizing rain barrels for your own lawn and landscape maintenance is a way that you can participate in our mission and have a positive impact of your own. And if you happen to be a property manager or HOA officer charged with the supervision and maintenance of common areas, let us put our environmentally conscious methods to use for you. Contact us for a custom quote for landscape maintenance and snow and ice removal.

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