Rain Barrels

Why Use Rain Barrels?

The Town of Okotoks has a limited water supply that it obtains annually from the Sheep River. Due to restrictions on water use, any effort to conserve water or use less water is very beneficial. As the demand for water continues to increase, now is the time to consider water-conscious alternatives like Rain Barrels.

Benefits of Using Rain Barrels:

  • In Okotoks you can receive rebates of up to $50 per barrel totaling up to $100 per household.
  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Helps reduce water consumption.
  • Lowers monthly utility bill.
  • Keeps gardens and trees happy and healthy.
Rain Barrel Design: Pro's & Con's

There are several types of rain barrel designs.  Before purchasing a rain barrel, it is important to recognize the pros and cons of each design.

Wooden Rain Barrels

Wooden Rain Barrels can be leaky and are difficult to add connections.  You also run the risk of rotting wood and contaminated water.

Average cost: $225-$600

Plastic or Composite Rain Barrels

Popular! Plastic or Composite Rain Barrels often come with hooks up’s, valves and screens already installed. These are smaller and will fill up quickly!

Recommended for small yards, first time gardeners and those who aren’t comfortable with installing their own fittings and connections.

Average Cost: $89.00-$350.00  prices go up as barrels become more aesthetically pleasing. 

Recycled Barrels or Tanks

With Recycled Barrels or Tanks, you will likely need to make your own screen and connections, but still a good option for handy gardeners. Make sure you clean these well!

Average Cost: $0 - $$$ depending on materials.

Handi-Tanks

Handi-Tanks have a large storage capacity and often come with connections already installed.  However, Handi-Tanks take up lots of space (good for large yards and acreages).

Average Cost: $114.00-$519.00 depending on size.

Barrels or Tanks in Series

These are a good option for large gardens, handy-folks, and acreage gardeners.

Barrels or Tanks in Series often take up a lot of space and have a large water holding capacity.  The advantage is that you can add as you go and customize if needed.

Installation of Rain Barrels

Required Items:

  • Rain barrel – pick one that suits the space you have available.
  • Down spout, flexible or straight (depends on where you want your barrel set up)
  • A Diversion Kit (if you choose to use one)
  • Platform/stand or steady surface (i.e. gravel)
  • Valve or spigot
  • Overflow Hose
  • Garden hose, or soaker hose

Please see below for a step-by-step breakdown of rain barrel installation.

Step 1: Purchasing Rain Barrel

Select a good rain barrel for your space, purchase a valve and hose if required and flexible downspout. Pick one that won’t let in light, has a screen to filter the water coming in (no critters or leaves, dirt etc. to contaminate the water).

Rain Barrels range from an average of $70-$200, and can be bought at most Home & Garden centres.

Please see Rain Barrel Calculator below to estimate the appropriate size of your rain barrel.

Step 2: Position of Barrel

Use gravity as your friend. Use a stand or position on high ground so water can easily flow out with enough pressure. Some sturdy base materials include bricks, pavers, cinder blocks, or gravel.

Find a good place to store your rain barrel - close to down spout(s), easy access for watering and maintenance. Make sure there is good slope away from the foundation so the water won't pool. 

Step 3: Assembling the Rain Barrel
  • Connect the screen on top of the inlet if it comes with one or create your own with a sturdy mesh (like a widow screen). 
  • Connect the spigot or valve on the bottom of the barrel. If your kit does not include one, make sure to drill a clean hole, and water proof the connection with a threaded fitting and gasket or silicone. 
  • Connect the overflow hose with a similar fitting. The overflow hose should be long enough to run off into a flower bed or near the base of a water loving tree.
Step 4: Redirection of Rain Water

Route the downspout to the top of rain barrel at the inlet.  Cut off the downspout and install flex or solid downspout to top of rain barrel. Keep the parts you removed, to reinstall them before winter.

Series: To collect more water, you can connect multiple barrels in a series.  Connect the overflow from the first barrel to a second (and second to a third and so on) so that when the first fills, the next begins to fill. You will also need a tap on the bottom of each barrel.

Diverter kit: You can also buy a diverter kit so your downspout stays intact. This is installed into the side of your downspout and collects some of the water and sends it to the barrel.

Step 5: Let it Rain!

Your rain barrel is ready for action! It will start collecting water. When volume is sufficient, connect your soaker hose or regular garden hose to the spout and turn the valve on, now you can water away!

Maintenance of Rain Barrels

It is important to remember to empty your rain barrel system completely before winter, or it might crack and leak the following year. Leave the spigot or valve open and reconnect the downspout back to the ground so ice does not build up. 

Rain Barrel Calculator

When there is an accumulation of 25mm of rain,  it can be assumed that 25 Litres of water per 1 square meter of roof area can be collected.

To estimate the correct size of your rain barrel, please calculate it below.  Enter the size of your roof (in square meters) and multiply the number by 25.  This will tell you approximately how many litres of water can be collected!

What do I use all this water for?

Rain Barrels can be effectively used to water trees, annuals, perennials, garden varietals, and grass around your property.

Trees

Trees need deep watering to promote strong root systems. Letting the hose run slowly on a tree for 20 min once a week can provide a great source of water deep in the root zone that won’t get used up by grass and other plants with shallow roots.

Gardens & Flower Beds

Watering with a hose or a soaker hose is a good way to get water from your rain barrel to your annuals, perennials, and garden varietals. Additionally, use of a watering can is also a good idea. 

Grass

Getting water from the rain barrel on your lawn can be tricky but if you have enough pressure from your rain barrel it can be done. This is why a larger capacity tank and higher elevation can be helpful. Watering by hand is time consuming but a sure way to all that free water to good use!

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