Rain Barrels

Two young girls collect water from rain barrels.

Ann Naffinger and Paul Canavese daisy chained 4 55-gallon barrels on the side of their Alameda home.

With drought and rising temperatures it makes sense to conserve water whenever you can. Installing a rain barrel or tank is an easy way to collect water for your garden that would otherwise just go down the drain. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Using recycled food transport barrels are cheap and cities often offer inexpensive barrels for sale. Rainwater is also good for your plants (unless you live a place with very polluted air) because it doesn’t have cloramine, a disinfectant added to many municipal water that is not good for soil and plant health.  While visiting urban farms up and down the coast I saw lots of examples of tanks and it seems the biggest obstacle for city yards is figuring out where to fit the barrel or tank. Here are some ideas.


Birgitt Evans put her tank under her deck in Alameda, California.


Kenya Spiegel and Seth Brown in Portland hooked up a tank to flush a toilet.



Catherine Burke in Seattle had plenty of room in her large Seattle backyard to set up this 1500 gallon tank.


Here's our 200 gallon tank in my San Francisco yard. We didn't have room to put it next the house so it's at the end of the side walkway.

Here’s the 200 gallon tank in our San Francisco yard. Because we only have a four foot wide walkway on the side of the house, we put it just past the walkway in the backyard.


Here is the way Barry made the round foundation for the barrel.



This shows the gutter with the shut off valve.

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