Had a pretty cool Saturday this weekend and I thought I’d share. Mel flew up North for her Dad’s retirement party (Congrats Bob, I really wish I could’ve been there.) and generally when Mel is out of town and I am not with her, that leads to me getting some beer or wine and holing up with some horror flicks and just enjoying my own company. While that happened, I also had a really awesome project that I had started Saturday morning and completed by sundown.
So what was this all about?
Well, this last week Melinda and I picked up the “Rain King”, and before you think I’m making some sincerely bizarre Counting Crows song reference, the “Rain King” I’m referring to is a rain barrel. And “What’s a rain barrel?” you ask? It’s basically exactly what it sounds like, it’s a barrel you place under your rain gutter down spout and when it rains, instead of the water just washing down into the municipal sewage system, it’s collected for later use. In our case, that use is relegated to our plants and a future veggie garden!
The barrel itself was purchased through Apex Public Works who bought a bunch of the barrels from a local company out of Raleigh called “Rain Water Solutions inc.”. Bought in bulk, the Town Of Apex sold them to residents at almost half the cost! It’s all done in an effort to reduce water consumption, which has always been an issue down here during the dog days of summer. Not too many folks have them and Mel and I have always thought it was a pretty cool idea. So when we had a little extra money, we vowed to pick one up. This last week, we finally did!
The barrels themselves are surprisingly well made, I was pretty impressed when I picked ours up. They are made of 100% recycled materials (definitely cool!), they have a spigot in the front to fill a watering can or attach a hose to, and they can hold up to 65 gallons of water! Rain Water Solutions also paid attention to a lot of little things that you don’t know are important until they are brought to your attention. Stuff like a little mesh screen over the top opening of the barrel to keep out debris and prevent mosquitoes from making your rain barrel a little breeding ground. It also has an over flow hose of considerable length that allows you to divert excess rain water once the huge barrel is completely full. This is important because it keeps the excess water flowing away from your home’s foundation and not into it, doing damage over time.
So we got it home, I quickly put it together and decided on what rain spout to put it under. We chose the spout to the left of the stairs on our deck. It’s closest to our plants and Mel puts together most of her pots in the spring on the back deck. As I mentioned before, one of the cooler aspects of the rain barrel is the spigot attached to it. It’s gravity-fed so there isn’t much water pressure, but it’s convenient and clean and it also was the impetus for the project I built this weekend! Because the spigot is provides gravity fed water pressure, it’s in your best interest to get the barrel as high up as safety allows. The reason for this is simple; the higher the barrel is, the greater the water pressure you will receive. We wanted to put it on the deck but room on the deck is already hard to come by. So that left me with only one option: I’d have to build a small structure, preferably attached to the deck, that we could place the rain barrel onto.
Our goal was to not only make the structure sturdy (at full capacity, the barrel weighs in at 500 lbs!) but also to create a structure that hid the barrel itself. Not that the barrel is a terrible eyesore, but it’s not exactly easy on the eyes either. Luckily the answer came pretty quickly. By the downspout we’ve planted some very healthy Carolina Jessamine, so if I could build the platform and frame it with lattice, that would give the Jessamine a fine structure to the climb on, creating a natural barrier using very little lumber! Sold!
So I dropped Mel off at the airport Saturday morning and stopped at Lowes on the way back home to pick up the lumber for the frame of the platform that the barrel would rest on. I had a small bit of lumber left over from when we built the privacy fence years ago, so that help offset the amount I had to pickup. Which was nice as we try to reuse stuff around the house as much as possible and it was great to finally get some use out of that lumber! Anyways, I got home, dragged out the miter saw, my power drill, the jigsaw, a box of 2.5 inch deck screws, a hammer and a little bit of a blue print I put together for guidance.
I instantly got to work, turning this:
All told, the project took about 6 hours start to finish. The end product looks great, albeit a bit rustic because the old pickets I used were naturally warped, but I think it adds character to the finished product! Hopefully that’s not foolhardy male intuition and Mel ends up loving it! 😉
I had hoped to get it all finished before Mel got back the next afternoon, that and it was supposed to rain cats and dogs that evening into the next morning. I’m happy to report that everything worked out pretty much perfect! I finished it and at the stroke of midnight, it’s started to down-pour. I checked outside quickly with a flash light and was treated to the wonderful sound of water splooshing into the barrel. I got up next morning and it was still raining! The barrel was completely full and the structure held beautifully!
Definitely worth the time and the project was pretty fulfilling on a bunch of levels! Highly recommended for a cool DIY weekend project that wont chew up your weekend and spit it out.