Rain barrels can help us save rain for dry days. In previous articles we have talked about the rain and how to design your yard for the native plants that are available. Now we will see the benefits of saving rainwater and if its legal here in Southwest Florida to do so.
Are Rain Barrels Illegal?
No. In some states there may be regulations as to how much you can collect, where you can collect it from and how it can be used. Fortunately here its actually encouraged. We often think there is plenty of rain here in Southwest Florida. While it is true that most years we get over 50 inches of rain, most of the rain falls during the 6 month rainy season. The other half of the year it can be very dry.
Even though it’s a good practice to collect water, and in some ways really good for the environment. Some people are against them. If you live in a neighborhood that has a home owners association (HOA) some of these are not allowed because they are not pleasing to look at.
Do Rain Barrels Have Risks?
You need to understand where you are collecting the water from and how you intend to use it. If you are collecting water from gutters you need to be careful. Airborne pollutants, and even bird droppings can get washed into your rain barrels. If you are going to use the collected water on decorative landscaping you should be just fine.
Should you decide to use it on a vegetable garden you would want to be careful. In fact some would suggest you not doing this just to make sure no contaminates are introduced to your growing food source.
When to Collect Water
You might think that the rainy season would be the best time to collect rain water. During the rainy months, its rains just about every day. If you were to collect water this time of year, you would need to save it for many month and they use it when its dry. In Florida its difficult to have underground cisterns to hold large amounts of water.
It might be best to set up your rain barrels during the dry season. This way when there is rain you can collect it and use it until it rains again. Most rain barrels that you would put under a downspout will hold about 50 gallons of water.
How To Use Your Rain Barrel
Once you have collected water the trick will be, what to do with it. Ideally you would have your barrel on a stand so that you could use gravity to pull the water down the garden hose. If you do put the rain barrel on a stand be careful and understand the risks. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. This means a 50 gallon barrel will weigh over 400 pounds! Thats enough to crush a person.
Soaker hoses can be one of the best ways to reduce evaporation and make sure the water is getting the plants in need. If you can water your plants early in the morning, there is a better chance the water will get to the roots before evaporating.
If you are thinking about getting rain barrels and want to include them in your landscaping plan let us know. Alternatively, you could consider using native Florida plants in your yard that require less water and adapt to our season. Either way we look forward to getting to know you and help you get the best looking yard you can imagine!