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Rain Barrel System

This is a companion to my earlier story on “PVC Pipe Drip Irrigation”. The rain barrel system has been a work in progress for many years and every year it gets some changes. I think I’ve finally got it to the place I want it to be.

Starting at the front of the house I have 2 barrels connected together to collect off the main roof. When full it runs in grass along the tree and front flower bed. If those get saturated it will run off the property onto the street but in our semi-arid climate its very rare. I have connectors behind the fence that bring both barrels together. I had an extra Y connector so I have a hose going off to the front if I want to water something in the front yard. From the connectors it goes to another hose that runs it to the back of the house.

Front rain barrels
Front rain barrel connections.

At the back of the house I have 2 more rain barrels that collect from the small roof and back porch cover. The overflow goes into the mulch by a large tree. Similar to the front I have a Y connector to bring the rain barrels together. The next connection is the hose from the front rain barrels. The next is hose that splits into 2 hoses — one long one for using the yard and one short one for filling watering cans from the rain barrels. The last connection goes the junction at the garden.

You’ll also see a connection on the back of the 4 splitter. This is a regular hose connection from town water. If I shut all the connections off and just run to the long hose I can use town water or I can open the connection to the garden and run town water back to it when needed (early spring, late fall, or when the barrels are dry).

Back rain barrels.
Back rain barrel connections.

At the garden there are 2 rain barrels off the garage. The far one is connected by a hose running just below the surface by the garage door. The connection brings the water from the house rain barrels to the back. The first line is to the drip irrigation system. The second is to a long hose. The other 2 lines are from the garage rain barrels. Both the garage rain barrels overflow into mulch. There are sunflowers growing here now but I’ve just planted some bee balm & coneflower that I hope will take over the area.

Garage rain barrels.
Garden connection.

Each rain barrel is 55 U.S. gallon or 208L. When all are full I have a little over 1200L of water available. The house and the garage give approximately 1200 sq.ft. of surface area so it only takes about 3/10" (8mm) of rain to fill them. My garden is about 400 sq.ft. so even a small rain is enough to keep it going for 1–2 weeks. Even though we are in a drought I have only had to water my garden for one week from town water.