Rain Barrels have been around almost as long as gardeners and farmers realized the advantage to collecting the natural supply of water running off a rooftop. This water source, usually lost to runoff and these days diverted to storm drains, are the best source of water for plants to thrive.
As pavement, parking lots and roofs have covered the land with impervious surfaces we are also learning that pollutants are entering the water as it makes its way to local waterways. Tars, gas, pesticides and other contaminants are swept into the water that is ultimately entering our recreational waters and drinking water.
Residential water use increases 40-50% during the summer months due for the most part to outdoor water use. Yet we know that plants prefer water without chlorine, ammonia, fluoride and other additives that cities put in water systems.
That means that adding a Rain Barrel to collect the water from your roof is an inexpensive way to keep your gardens supplied. To get an idea of the amount of water you could collect, there is a simple formula: Multiply the square footage of the roof by 623 and then divide by 1000. Or you can assume that as little as 1/10th inch of rain will fill a Rain Barrel. In Tennessee, the average rainfall is about 54 inches a year.
The image on this page is provided courtesy of the Beyond the Midway project at the Wilson County Fairgrounds.