LESLIE: Well, when it rains, it pours. And if you have a rainwater collection system at your house, you can actually use those downpours to help hydrate your yard during future dry spells.
ROGER: Good to be here. And sometimes, this is the only water your garden is going to see.
TOM: And that’s a great point. And it really is the utmost in recycling, to collect the rainwater and reuse it when you need it.
So, how exactly do you install a rain barrel?
ROGER: Well, the first thing you’ve got to do is find a downspout.
TOM: Get a barrel.
ROGER: No. Get the downspout first, because that’s going to fill your barrel.
ROGER: What we do is we locate a barrel right next to a downspout. Cut it into the barrel so that when it rains, it comes down into the gutter, down the downspout and fills your barrel.
TOM: So we drop the entire downspout right into the barrel.
ROGER: That’s right.
TOM: Alright. Now, what happens when the barrel fills up?
ROGER: It has an overflow on it.
ROGER: So you can either do two things: you can either let it run off from there or you could double it up with another rain barrel and fill two or even three if you had the room.
LESLIE: But that would probably require a lot of room, correct?
ROGER: No, these barrels don’t take up much space at all. But it all depends – I wouldn’t do that on the front of the house.
ROGER: Maybe in the back.
LESLIE: So you’ve got to think about where you put this, because I imagine it becomes not an eyesore but something to plan into what the structure of your home looks like.
ROGER: You want it near the area you’re going to use the most water in. For a lot of people, that’s a vegetable garden. If you can locate it uphill with a vegetable garden, you can simply attach a hose to the barrel and let gravity run the water down to the vegetable garden.
TOM: Alright. So now we’ve got the rain barrel installed; it’s full with water. How do we get it out?
ROGER: Well, there’s two ways. Usually, they have a spigot attached to the barrel. You could put a soaker hose on that and let it run right into the vegetable garden or we could perch it up on a couple of blocks of concrete and then you could take a watering can, slide it under there and fill the watering can and take that to your pot or whatever needed water.
LESLIE: But you can’t take a hose with a nozzle attachment and – there’s no pressure there to help you do that.
ROGER: There’s no pressure there unless you supplemented it with an electrical pump.
LESLIE: OK. Now, are these readily available? Can I just go to the home center and pick one up?
ROGER: In the last couple years, most home centers have them. You can just walk in and take them home.
TOM: And some of them are actually very attractive. I’ve seen some that look like sort of the old whiskey-barrel look.
ROGER: Yeah. We have some we used at – are actually wood and I believe they had scotch in them and it was great; great to empty out the barrel before we put the water in it.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. Did the project get done that day, Roger?
ROGER: Very slowly. But not only are there barrels but now they make bladders. Barrels only average about 50 or 55 gallons apiece.
ROGER: But you can now get bladders, which you could hide underneath a deck or in a crawlspace, that will hold thousands of gallons of water.
TOM: Wow. Wow, so that’s basically a big, sort of inflatable balloon, so to speak.
ROGER: That’s right. And it just fills up with water. It has a pump attached to it, so this you could use with a nozzle or even with a sprinkler.
TOM: That makes a lot of sense.
TOM: You could probably water a good part of your lawn with that.
ROGER: Yep. Much bigger. It’ll take care of a lawn area.
LESLIE: Do you find – I know this is a funny question but do you find that it’s mostly like the green, enviro-friendly folks that are asking for this or is every type of homeowner thinking this is a good idea?
ROGER: You know, with the water bans we’re having and the heat we had this summer, everyone’s looking for an option. Now, 50 gallons doesn’t seem like much but for a vegetable garden, it can get you through a really dry streak.
TOM: Good advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: My pleasure.
TOM: And you guys have a great video online showing exactly how to install a rainwater collection system and that is, of course, at ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And of course, you can watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.