As the spring is upon us, and the rain is inevitable, we may as well collect it! Rain barrels are wonderful because you can collect water and use it later. Rainwater can be used for many purposes like cooking, watering lawns or gardens, watering house plants, washing cars, flushing toilets, feeding pets, bathing, laundry, composting and if you have a good enough filtration system you can even drink it yourself.
The first thing to consider when thinking about collecting rainwater is where on your property you would be able to place a rain barrel. Your HOA might also have some regulations you must consider as well. In my neighborhood you are allowed to have one rain barrel per house and it must be in a fenced portion of your property.
Another thing to consider is if you regularly clean your gutters. The best place for a rain barrel would be attached to or right under the downspout. If your gutters are filled with leaves and debris, your rainwater will be dirtier than you may want it to be. You will need to make sure there is a filter, so leaves do not go into the barrel itself. Some barrels have filtration systems so effective you could drink it yourself. Filtration systems can be put in the bottom of rain barrels using materials such as sand, pebbles, rocks etc.
You can buy or make a rain barrel. There are many options depending on how much rainwater you plan to collect. You want to make sure that you are using the rainwater you collect, and you do not let it stand unused for too long. You should always dispense the water from the bottom of the barrel. Also keep in mind that exposed sitting water is a mosquitos dream, so make sure it stays covered.
This endeavor does not need to be expensive. For years I put a large plastic storage bin with a hole in the top under my spout and used that for a few household chores like watering the garden and composting. That might be a great place for you to start if you are collecting rainwater for the first time and are not ready to make the investment. Happy rain collecting!