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Make a rain barrel, catch some spring rain – And watch your savings climb

It's spring – and for many homeowners, that means it's time to plant flowers in their yards, and vegetables in the garden. If you have a garden, whether it's just ornamental or you use it to feed your family, you know that watering, particularly during the summer months, can get expensive. Here's one way to help defray some of that cost.

If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain in the spring, as well as afternoon showers in the summer, consider setting up a rain barrel. It's an inexpensive way to capture water for your lawn and garden, and you can even use the water to wash your car. 

And here's an added bonus: By capturing the rainwater coming off your roof, you'll reduce storm water runoff, and that helps to prevent erosion and flooding on your property. 

You can pick up a rain barrel at any lawn and garden store for about $80 to $150 – you'll get the money back in savings on your water bill. But it's even better to build your own barrel, and pocket the savings. 

Just get a 55 gallon drum or trash can. Drill a hole for the faucet down low, but not so low that you can't attach a hose or place a watering can under it. Carefully screw the faucet into the drum to create the threads needed to hold it in place. Unscrew it, and apply a thin line of caulk around the edge of the hole. Place a reducing washer over the hole, with the caulk acting as the adhesive. Be sure to place the raised portion of the washer against the barrel. Once the washer is in place and the caulk has hardened, screw your faucet back into place.

But don't forget about the inside of the hole. You have to create a seal there as well.  Run a line of caulk around the hole on the inside of the barrel, and add another reducing washer. Once the washer is in place, screw on a lock nut to secure the faucet. 

Plan for overflow with your barrel. Some people install a spout at the top as well, while others just let the spillover do just that – spill over. 

The last step to create the barrel is to add tight mesh mosquito screen under the lid of the barrel to let the water in, but keep the bugs and other critters out. 

Set your barrel up so that your downspout flows directly into it. You may need to shorten the downspout to do so. Make sure your barrel is on level ground: this is very important. A full barrel can weigh up to 450 pounds; you don't want it tipping over on you. 

Once you start getting some rain, you'll start to see the savings. And that savings will add up while the rain falls down...

Published Mar 15 2012, 11:55 AM by moneycoach
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