April Showers . . .
March 31, 2016
Ahhh. . . April. How we love you. With your warm breezes and gentle showers. Honeysuckle and honeybees. Dogwoods and daffodils. And in the immortal words of Satchmo, “skies of blue and clouds of white.” In April, the canvas of our beautiful, wonderful world begins to be dotted with gorgeous splashes of color. And it’s truly a sight to behold.
Much of that beauty, those colors, that new growth is largely owing to those self-same April showers. The spring rain. That life-giving, earth-renewing, liquid-silver elixir that can help transform the barren ground into lush green fields. And don’t forget the flowers. Bring on those May flowers!
So, yes, we love the April showers. We love the rain. But how can we take advantage of that wonderful rain? How can we harness its power? Well, one way that people have been utilizing rain since ancient times is by collecting rainwater during rainy seasons for use during the dryer months. Historical records indicate that the practice goes back 2,000 years. Collecting rainwater not only saves money, but it also helps protect a precious natural resource. As many areas are being adversely affected by drought, and as many underground aquifers are overstressed, it is very wise to seek out ways to minimize our impact on municipal water supplies.
And one of those ways is by harvesting rainwater. Don’t let all that glorious water go to waste! Catch it and use it! Collect it in a rain barrel. For each inch of rain that falls on 500 square feet of roof, you can collect 300 gallons of water. This means that, in most parts of North America, you could collect more than a thousand gallons of water a year to use in your garden or on your lawn.
“To the average homeowner, a rain barrel is a simple and inexpensive way to catch and store rainwater as it flows from a building's roof into the gutters and downspouts. This stored water then becomes a great alternative to tap/city water and can be used during periods of dry or drought to water gardens, trees, and other plants.” (http://www.nashville.gov/Water-Services/Community-Education/Rain-Barrels.aspx)
Rain barrels are not that expensive to buy (typically between $50 and $150), but they can also be a fairly easy DIY project to make. There are many how-to guides on building a rain barrel. Here is a handy-dandy printable PDF with detailed instructions for making your own rain barrel. Here is another online guide from Better Homes & Gardens. Buy or make your own rain barrel, and see what a difference it can make to your garden, your pocketbook, and to our rivers and streams.
One quick note: rain barrels are illegal in some areas -- be sure to check your local regulations before starting.
Everywhere water is a thing of beauty gleaming in the dewdrop,
singing in the summer rain.
- John Ballantine Gough
Innumerable as the stars of night,
Or stars of morning, dewdrops which the sun
Impearls on every leaf and every flower.
- John Milton
Rain Barrel Guide. http://www.rainbarrelguide.com/
Better Homes & Gardens. Make a Rain Barrel to Save Water. http://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/tools/make-a-rain-barrel-save-water/
How to make a rain barrel. http://www.nashville.gov/Portals/0/SiteContent/WaterServices/docs/education/2006_howto_rain_barrel.pdf