Keeping your lawn and gardens healthy and colorful requires a lot of work and a lot of water. With increasingly hot summers, conserving water is essential not only for your wallet but for the planet in general. The DIY projects in this article will help you to protect and conserve this precious resource while putting it to use for your home.
A rain barrel is a great way to collect water for future use. Making your own takes just a few materials. For this project you’ll need:
The reason you want the lid of your container to be rounded is that it is going to be flipped over and placed back on top of the can. This will create a bowl-shaped area where water collects before draining into the barrel.
In an approximately 6”x6” square area in the middle of the lid, drill five holes with the hole saw bit. Then, cut out a square piece of bug screen to cover all five holes. The screen is important to prevent sitting water from becoming a breeding ground for harmful pests like mosquitos. Attach the screen with the waterproof duct tape to the top rounded part of the lid. This part will not be visible once the lid is flipped over and attached.
Drill a hole 4” from the top of the can. This is a route to prevent overflowing from the top. Drill another hole 2” from the bottom. This is where you will attach the spigot. Getting a spigot that includes a bulkhead fitting is the best option for rain barrels because it has two parts that attach to each other inside and outside the rain barrel to hold it in place. Attach the inside piece of the bulkhead fitting first and then fit the outside piece onto that. Put some teflon tape around the grooves of the spigot to ensure a waterproof seal and then screw the spigot into both the connected pieces of the bulkhead fitting. Fill the can with enough water to cover the spigot and check for leaks.
Now, flip over the lid with the bowl shape facing up and set it on top of the can. The lid will need to be held in place with wire. Drill eight holes around the edge of the lid with a ¼” drill bit and eight corresponding holes on the top edge of the can. When all the holes line up, feed wire through and tighten the can and lid together.
Finally, the rain barrel needs to be high enough off the ground that you are able to put a watering can underneath to fill. Use as many cinder blocks as you need – probably two or four – to make an area where you can keep your rain barrel off the ground.
If you’re looking for something more automatic than filling a watering can over and over again, a DIY irrigation system is a great option for you. Irrigation is an age-old method of controlling the flow of water and directing it where you want it to go. The system we’re going to set up sits above ground and attaches right to a rain barrel for an easy two-in-one water collection and distribution system.
To start, measure out the amount of PVC pipe you need to cover the area you want to irrigate. Use the hacksaw to cut two long pieces that will lie in the garden bed. Cut one piece that will attach from the hose to the T fitting. Cut two more pieces that will connect between the T fitting and the elbows. How long these two pieces are will dictate the width of your system.
Once you have your cut pieces ready, start attaching your pipe fittings. Attach the hose adapter to the spout of your rain barrel. Then attach the shorter piece of pipe you cut to the adapter. On the other end of that piece of pipe, install the T connector. This will allow your water to be diverted into two rows. On these non-threaded connections, use the PVC cement. Follow the directions for applying and holding in place while it dries. On either side of the T connector, attach two more pieces of pipe you’ve measured out. On the other end of each of those, attach an elbow fitting.
Before installing the last two pieces of your irrigation system, you need to add some holes to the long PVC pipes so that water can drip out and into your garden. To do this, use a 1/8 drill bit and make a hole on each side of the pipe every 6” or so. Once your two lengths of pipe have enough holes in them, you can attach them to the elbows. Once attached, place the pipes as desired in your garden.
Save the rain in your barrel for a string of sunny days and when your plants really need it, you can turn on the spout and direct the rain directly to the roots of your plants.