Del Ray is rain barrel central. It’s hard to walk down a block without seeing a barrel — some even blend into the landscape of the house, their style equal to their function. Leslie already has a barrel, and I am happy to report I have finally joined the rain barrel club. Rain, bring it on, I am ready for you!
Through a garden listserve, I heard about a company called District Garden that has a unique rain barrel system which doesn’t involve the typical method of cutting your downspout. Intrigued, I set up an appointment with the owner Ben for an install. (I’ll show you here how it all works, but if you are interested in having a rain barrel installed, keep reading below for details about a discounted rate we’ve coordinated for local DIY Del Ray readers which you won’t want to miss!)
On most of the rain barrels I have seen, the home’s downspout rests on top of the barrel. If you don’t have an overflow tube directing water elsewhere, in monsoon season, the barrel can overflow and cause havoc in your basement. After trial and error with rain barrels at his own home, Ben has developed a system to avoid this overflow issue.
But first, you have to ready the barrel. Ben uses upcycled soda and pickle containers for the rain barrel — double the eco-friendliness, you could say, as these would have ended up in a landfill. He drills a hole close to the bottom for the drain (in case you wanted to completely empty it) which he closes off with a plug. He uses regular dishwashing soap as a lubricant to screw the plug in as snugly as possible.
A few inches above the drain, he drills another hole for the spigot, and one more hole goes on the side near the top for the tube that will connect the barrel to the downspout.
Now Ben drills a hole in the downspout and inserts the magical diverter. The diverter will guide the rain water from the downspout into the barrel. About 70-80% of the rain water from the downspout will enter the rain barrel, the rest continues through the downspout. When the barrel is full, water will then flow down the downspout per usual. This means no overflow, no flooding, no puddles of water attracting mosquitoes.
And if you want to close down your rain barrel for winter, you simply unscrew the diverter to disconnect the barrel and insert the winter cap.
When full, this barrel will hold 50 gallons of water for my garden. I don’t have a spigot in my backyard, so before getting the barrel, I had to fill a watering can in my kitchen sink.
It’s not the best-looking container (though it can be painted!) and it does take up space on my small deck, but the environmental benefits outweigh the loss of space. Rain barrels reduce stormwater runoff, provide soft water for plants and gardens and reduce pollutants in the city’s sewer and water management systems.
I only have room in my backyard for one barrel, but if you have space, you can easily connect a second or third. We saw a house of similar size to mine at the 2012 Del Ray House and Garden Tour with FOUR connected rain barrels (three shown below). That’s serious water conservation.
So here’s the deal… Ben is offering a special rate for DIY Del Ray readers (located within 40 miles of DC area code 20001) until the end of the June 2013. The total price for the rain barrel, including delivery and installation, is $100, a 33% discount on District Garden’s regular price. To schedule your install, contact Ben at email@example.com or 202-505-1135 and tell him DIY Del Ray sent you.
And a little more about District Garden… The small business has served the DMV area for the past three years and has installed over 300 rain barrels as well as other landscaping services such as raised beds and pergolas. Their website is chock full of additional details about the benefits of rain barrels, photos of rain barrel installs and even a rain fall calculator to determine the best way to maximize your rain water.
So if haven’t already installed a rain barrel, now’s the time. Let’s make Del Ray the rain barrel capital of the world!