wooden barrel image by Jorge Moro from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>
Rain barrels are a great source of water for lawns, gardens and landscape plants. Using rain barrels is environmentally sensitive and helps preserve a precious resource. Many people mistakenly believe that barrels can't be used if their house doesn't have rain gutters. Actually, there are many homeowners who enjoy the benefits of rain barrels even though their home does not have gutters. Properly installed, they are easy to use and will provide water all summer long.
It is necessary to remove the top to provide a large enough opening for rain to fall into the barrel from the roof. If your barrel has a removable top, simply take it off. If it does not, you will have to cut it off in order to use your barrel without gutters.
Use the power drill and 3/4-inch bit to drill a guide hole for the saw bit. This can be done anywhere along the circular edge of the cover.
Insert the reciprocal saw blade into the guide hole and then cut the top of the barrel off, following the edge all the way around in a circular motion. Properly discard the removed top.
Use the 80-grit sandpaper to sand the opening and remove any rough edges from the cut.
Use the circular saw to cut the 1-by-4-inch lumber into four two-foot lengths.
Lay the four cut pieces of lumber on the ground with the 1-inch edges facing up and down. Arrange them so that they form a square. Overlap the ends so that they can be nailed together, then nail each corner together with 2 10-penny nails.
Center the screen and staple it to the frame. Place one staple per inch along each side. The screen should fit snugly to keep debris and mosquito laying larvae out of the barrel. Plan to use a total of 80 to 84 staples. Use a box cutter to remove the excess screen from the frame and discard it.
Position the rain barrel in an area that is convenient, so that water does not have to be carried long distances. Be sure to choose a level site. According to the James River Association, a full 55- gallon rain barrel weighs over 227 Kilogram.
Study how rainwater drains from the roof. Many roofs have valleys, or areas where two downward slopes join and funnel water towards the ground. Valleys offer the best location to capture the largest amount of rainwater without gutters. Observe how much rain falls in several locations before making a final choice. It will not be possible to move the barrel once it is full.
Place the mesh screen cover on top of the barrel and wait for rain.
- Consider placing the rain barrel on concrete blocks to elevate it. This will allow the addition of a spigot and a hose later.
- According to the University of Rhode Island, rain barrels should be drained and stored upside down during the winter months in northern climates to prevent damage resulting from freezing.
- wooden barrel image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com