by Debbie Hughes, Estates Horticulturist
It’s summer in Florida and rain doesn’t seem to be on the menu for the month of July. One way the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is coping with the dry weather is by using rain barrels. With the help of the Florida Yards and Neighborhood Program, we installed a recycled 55 gallon rain barrel painted by a local artist, Marie Dyer. Since the rain hasn’t been exactly coming down in torrents, the rain barrel has become a handy addition in the gardens. Rain barrels are great for watering pots or containers since they dry out easier during the summer months with the higher temperatures. All of our potted plants are watered by this collection system.
How we did it:
- We cleaned the recycled barrel (in it’s previous life it contained hair conditioner), then drilled holes in the upper right and left sides to allow for rain water overflow using ¾” PVC elbows. When we get a steady downpour in Southwest Florida there is more than 55 gallons of water running off the roof making overflow necessary.
- The spigot to retrieve the stored water is installed 6” above the bottom of the barrel. It is best to place the rain barrel on a platform consisting of stepping stones on top of cement blocks. The elevation allows a watering can to be placed under the spigot.
- Our installation connected the gutter system into the barrel, but if your home does not have a guttering system, be creative. Find an area where water pours off a roofline, cut a bigger hole in the top, then fit a screen over the opening to seal out debris.
Other ideas include:
- If you are concerned about mosquito breeding inside the barrels, put 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to coat the surface periodically.
- The higher you mount the barrel off the ground the greater the pressure of the water coming out of the spigot.
- You can install a drip or soaker hose on the end of the spigot to direct water overflow to a vegetable garden nearby, Install the rain barrel near the area it can best be put to use.
- Use rain water to clean garden tools.
- Paint your rain barrel the color of your home to blend into the landscape.
- Check with your community rules, and if there are rules against such features, go to your homeowners association committee meetings to promote the use of these water saving devices.
Look for our next rain barrel workshop at the Estates or just stroll into the Garden Shoppe to see them first hand being used.
If making your own barrel is not at the top of your list of things to do this summer, the Estates Garden Shoppe sells painted and plain rain barrels ready to go into your garden.
For more questions call the Estates Garden Department at (239)334-7419 or leave a comment.