Rain barrels rock. Less water taxing the city sewers, free water on tap in my back yard. But sometimes it’s not easy using up all that free water before the next big rain comes. Then it’s a bit painful watching it run out the downspout and splash off the full rain barrel. Besides the obvious top of my list, watering my gardens, here are some other ideas.
Wash your car. Or your bike. Or your driveway, patio, shed, kids’ outdoor toys, etc. Rainbarrel water is fine for outdoor washing needs. Fill up a bucket with rainwater and add some biodegradable soap if desired, then do another rainwater bucket for rinsing. Get out the sponge and pile on the elbow grease.
Rinse your compost bucket. After I dump my kitchen-scrap compost bucket on the compost pile outside, I rinse the bucket with water from the rain barrel.
Kids! During spring planting and those few weeks of getting seeds and new plantings established when rain isn’t falling every day or two, it’s frustrating to watch my small children joyfully filling bowls and buckets and playing with water from the rain barrels. But after the gardens get established, it’s much easier letting the kids have their fun with the water from the barrels. Just don’t try filling a kiddie pool – the water in my rain barrels, at least, is a bit smelly and not something I want my kids immersing themselves in.
If you’ve exhausted all other ideas, fill all the covered containers you want so you have water stored and empty rain barrels ready for refilling. You can fill watering cans too; just try to empty them within a couple days. Open water is a good breeding-ground for mosquitoes, and a potential drowning hazard for children (yours or your neighbors’).
Other ideas you have?