Solutions / Water

10 Reasons to Install a Rain Barrel

Use your harvested rain water to irrigate your garden, and so much more!

10 Reasons to Install a Rain Barrel
Scott Sporleder, Photographer

In small towns and big cities across the US, there is a growing conversation about rain barrels. It’s a great way to collect the water that’s available to us for free, and reuse it to irrigate our landscapes.

Stop by our general store Tools for Change to pick up a 55 gallon recycled barrel and simple installation kit.

Dig deeper, and you’ll find even more reasons to have a rain barrel. Here’s 10 reasons to inspire you to action.


Water your plants

Since the beginning, plants have evolved to flourish with three very basic inputs: healthy soil, sunlight and rainwater. Unlike tap water, rainwater is extremely nutrient dense, clean and free from chlorine and other chemicals used in the disinfection process. Yes, rainwater is full of bacteria and microorganisms, but it’s good bacteria and good microorganisms that our soil needs in order to be healthy.

Drink it (not recommended)

One inch of rainfall falling on a 1,000 square foot roof produces 600 gallons of runoff. That’s enough water to meet the drinking and sanitation needs of a family of four for up to five months! However, rainwater can contain bacteria and microorganisms (as mentioned above), pollutants, algae and even radioactive materials. In general, it’s not the safest water to drink. Though for entertainment purposes, if you did want to drink it, it’s recommended you use a clean, corrugated metal roof (instead of asphalt) to harvest from, flush out the first harvest, filter, and boil it before drinking.

Save money

On average, outdoor water usage accounts for 30% of our household usage. This percentage is even higher in areas like here in southern California where our climate is naturally dry, yet we have water-intensive landscapes like grass lawns. Irrigate your outdoor space with rainwater and you could watch your water bill go down by 30% or more.

Protect the ocean

In my opinion, a rain barrel is the number one tool for keeping our ocean clean. As soon as rain falls on our roof, it begins it’s journey to the ocean. On it’s way it collects trash, chemicals, fertilizers and pollutants from our lawns, driveways, streets and rivers—eventually bringing it all to our ocean. Eliminate this process from the source by diverting runoff into a rain barrel.

Passive solar hot water heating and home cooling

Water is incredible for it’s ability to retain solar energy in the form of heat. On a hot day, a black (or dark colored) rain barrel full of water will capture the sun’s energy and heat the water inside the barrel instead of heating the inside of your home. Plus, attach a hose to your barrel and you could end your day with a hot outdoor shower using fresh rainwater!

Trellis for plants

You can incorporate your rain barrel into the landscape design of your home. Grow a vining plant such as passion fruit, grapes, fragrant jasmine flowers or even a climbing cucumber variety at the base of your rain barrel.

Block for noise or unsightly view

Do you have a noisy (or nosy) neighbor next door or an ugly vacant lot in your view? You can position your rain barrel to block any unwanted features or noises.

Bird bath

Similar to plants, animals prefer rain water over municipal tap water! Use your harvested rain water in a bird bath for local birds, bees and other visiting wildlife to enjoy.


With a rain barrel and an abundant supply of rain water, you can depend more on yourself, and less on the public water utility company.

Household chores

Rainwater is pure. Unlike tap water, there is no hardness, making it ideal for cleaning stainless steel appliances and fixtures. You can also wash dishes, fill the back of your toilet, scrub your produce, or water your houseplants as needed. The ways you can use rainwater indoors is endless!



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