How To Use Your Rain Barrel As A Multifunctional Garden Tool

Rain barrels are simplistic yet highly beneficial backyard water tanks. Every time it rains, droplets and runoff collect in the barrel. The resulting reserve is suitable for watering grass, flowers, and plants; washing clothing and cars; flushing toilets; and drinking when filtered or boiled. Rainwater harvesting is a popular way to reduce water use and store excess H2O during drought or following natural disasters. And while these large reservoirs may seem to have one sole purpose, you can, in fact, use your rain barrel in various ways for both your garden and yard.

Widely available and easy to DIY, rain barrels are wise outdoor additions for any home. Yet, they can also be an eyesore. Because they typically come in bright colors, the barrels can be challenging to camouflage — but not impossible. For example, you could build a decorative enclosure to hide them (similar to a trash corral for garbage cans) or you could paint them to blend in with the side of the house. You could also forgo camouflaging them altogether and paint a mural or decorative pattern along the barrel's side. If you turn your rain barrel into a hydroponic or aquaponic garden, for instance, you'll certainly want to display what you grow.

Turning rain barrels into gardens

As said, rain barrels are multifunctional and you can use them as more than holding tanks for runoff. For example, you could make your backyard rain barrel do double or even triple duty by converting it into a hydroponic garden. Hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants, flowers, and crops without soil. Roots grow directly in the water instead of anchoring in place. This form of gardening can be done year-round and is a popular choice for homeowners with limited yard space. With some minor alterations, you can create a hydroponic garden right on top of your rain barrel. Rainwater will collect in the barrel and nourish the roots of the plants on top.

Aquaponic gardening, meanwhile, is similar in that it requires water and nutrients but no soil. However, an aquaponic garden is its own ecosystem. To create one of these gardens, you'd mimic a natural environment by adding fish that produce good bacteria, aka plant food. These ecosystems are self-sustainable, zero-waste, and because you never need to discharge water, they're low maintenance. Creating an aquaponic system within your rain barrel is very similar to creating a hydroponic one. With minimal materials and an afternoon, you could transform a simple blue rain barrel into a fully functional garden.