Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away!

We went to the expert - Paula Henson of Rainbud answers your questions about our new rain barrels!

How long can I keep the water in the barrel and won’t it get algae?

The dark color of the barrels prevents algae from growing. You can keep the water for months without a problem.

What kind of hose do I need?

The important thing to remember is that this is a gravity fed system, so it’s best if your barrel is set on a stand or cinderblocks at least 18” above ground to provide some flow. If you attach a hose and have it run along the ground in the garden you should have no problems. You can deep water by section this way.

What is this “first flush” I keep hearing about?

The first rain after a long dry spell carries all the dirt, pollutants etc. off your roof and into your rain barrel. There are many devices to prevent these contaminants from getting into your barrel, however if the top is screened, you can simply clean off whatever ends up there, including leaves etc. Remember, this roof runoff used to go directly into your garden or out to the bay!

On a personal note, let me add a progress report on my own rain barrels. The water from this rain was much less murky which made me feel much better about using it for my potted plants. I did not have great success attaching a hose. There was not enough force for the curled hose that I already had and the new hose that I purchased is probably too long. So this morning I used the 'bucket brigade' method. I was thrilled when we got the info above from Paula, as it means that I don't have to be frantic about emptying my barrels right away - I can let this be the water that I use every week for my pots.

Please leave a comment if you have any tips that might help others - or questions that are still unanswered.

Thank you to Paula Henson, the owner of Rainbud - their barrels are recycled, recyclable, local, and easy to install. They are food-grade polyethylene barrels. No new plastic has been created in the manufacturing of their barrels.