Should you build a Rain Barrel?

June 1, 2013 — 2 Comments

'LE- Rain Barrel Workshop' photo (c) 2011, vastateparksstaff - license: is fast approaching. This means all your hard work in the garden and flower beds will begin rewarding you with beautiful blooms and bountiful harvests. That is of course, if you provide your plants, seedlings, and vegetables with plenty of water. Relying on the sky to water your lawn or gardens in a timely fashion is not wise. Predicting rain is a daunting task even for your most reliable weatherman! If you think of the drought like conditions of 2012 this season may be one of hedging your bets, and preparing for the worst. Or in the case of rain, the absent!

Watering your plants, lawn, and flowers is important. Doing so from your garden hose can also be expensive. City water is sanitized in order to be deemed “safe” for consumption, but that also comes with a bit of a cost. Chlorine, Fluoride, and other additives used to sanitize the water can be harmful for your plants, and actually inhibit growth. Alternatively, rainwater is “soft-water” and contains beneficial minerals, nitrogen, and other food for your plants that cannot be replicated through the sanitation process. While rain water may have inherent problems of its own, the nutrients are soluble and readily available to plants. Ever seen the growth difference after a good rain? It is significant! City water is abundantly available and rainwater is sporadically available. One costs money for dispersion and disposal, while the other is free. [1] Every time you turn on your garden spigot, you pay for disposal of your water, even if it does not enter your city drains.

Consider a few facts for a moment. The EPA estimates that 26 billion gallons of water are consumed daily in the United States. The EPA also estimates the typical suburban lawn consumes 10,000 gallons above and beyond rainwater each year. Add in a typical garden plot at 10’ x 20’ and a few flower beds, and things can get pricey.

It is estimated that Romulus receives approximately 32.4 inches of rain per year. With a majority of that coming during the growing season, a typical 900sq ft. roof sheds 10,000 gallons of rainwater. That is exactly the amount of water most lawns require, yet most of it finds its way into the sewage system and creates runoff, which is not good for our treatment facilities or environment.[2] Diverting this precious resource seems logical and reduces the strain on municipal facilities while also helping the environment.[3]

This year, the Romulus Downtown Development Authority, Community Garden, and Maxi-Container (A Romulus Business), have partnered together to bring the citizens of our community its first rain barrel workshop. The workshop is provided to those who want to watch free of charge but registration is still necessary. If you wish to take home a rain barrel, you may do so at the low-cost of $50.00. Registration can be completed prior to the June 15th workshop date at Be sure to select the Romulus Workshop. The workshop will be held outside in the community garden located next to the Romulus Senior Center, 36525 Bibbins, Romulus, MI 48174.


[3] Storm water runoff also contributes to excess sewage, which eventually ends up in the Great Lakes, Detroit River, and other local waterways. These waterways are also the drinking water source for over 42 million people.



A husband, father, social worker, and disciple of Jesus Christ, James has been Square Foot Gardening since 2011. Being an avid row-gardener and desiring to become more self-sufficient for his family's needs, the Square Foot Method has become his default way of raising produce. A certified instructor with the Square Foot Gardening Foundation, James educates through introductory and hands-on workshops for the communities of Southeastern Michigan.

2 responses to Should you build a Rain Barrel?

  1. In some states it’s illegal to harvest rain water.
    With a little bit of plumbing knowledge you can buy food grade plastic barrels on Craigslist and link several together.

    • Not only some states as a whole, but some local municipalities as well. Thankfully, that is not true in most cities here in Michigan. The workshop does provide a fair price for the barrels for attendees, as well as through their retail sales at their local store. After pricing the food grade barrels, the spigot, and gutter attachments, it comes out close to $100.00 per…

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