This is a time of year when many Portlanders are thinking about the rain, looking at their yards, and dreaming of this year’s new garden (hark, the arrival of the seed catalogs!).
Rain barrels take a little extra planning in Portland, since we have a lot of rain in some seasons, and very little over the summer when landscaping needs irrigation. Most of the winter and spring, the barrels are just overflowing and need a safe place for the water to go. But, they can still be great tools to manage the rain on your property and save a little bit on your stormwater and water bill.
Check out this Rain Barrels Guide from Environmental Services.
And, a new article from the Sightline Institute, A Green Light for Using Rain Barrel Water on Garden Edibles, provides some great information about recent research about rain barrels and roof runoff, answering the question Is it safe to use rain-barrel water collected from your roof to irrigate homegrown lettuces, strawberries, and tomatoes?
We urge careful consideration of your roofing material and any chemical use before deciding to use rain barrel water on your edible plants. The article provides some good tips and information about keeping your barrels clean.
Rain barrel systems can range from a single wooden barrel (top) to a more complex series of connected barrels that save more water. Either way, make sure the overflow has somewhere safe to go away from your foundation and others' property.