It has not rained much here this spring and I have found myself watering my garden with the hose to make up for the lack of water for my plants. Upon receiving the water bill for this month, I realize that I've probably used about $10 in water just the past month! To me, that's just way too much. So I decided to find an alternative solution to make up for that.
My dad had mentioned making a rain barrel and putting it in the back yard where the concrete on our back porch sort-of slopes toward the house a bit (and therefore the downspout is extended a ways beyond that so we don't get a flooded basement!). I did a quick search online and found plenty of different ways to make my own rain barrel. You know, for when it actually decides to rain.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has a great document on making a rain barrel that includes hoses and overflow holes. This was a bit fancy for me, as I have little experience drilling holes in plastic and installing hoses. But it could be a really great idea for someone who wants a nicer looking barrel for their home and yard.
Environmental Services for the City of Portland also had a document about making your own rain barrel. This one still featured the hose, but seemed less daunting as I read through it. What was the best about this is that it helps you to determine where the best place for a barrel would be. There are, of course, places that you can buy pre-made barrels but the idea of making my own in just a few steps with my fiance on a Saturday morning is so irresistible.
The cheapest alternative that I have found to the more complex rain barrels in the previous documents is one that is made out of a trash can, has a mesh to filter out gunk, and a simple spout with a valve. I found it on Better Homes and Gardens and I will probably use this construction on my own project. Sure, the trash can is less eye-appealing but it's an easy-to-find product wherever you live. I'm sure I could dress it up a bit, too.