Caring for Your Rain Barrel
Once it’s built, you can pretty much set it and forget it, but rain barrels do need a little bit of maintenance from time to time.
First, you’ll want to check the screen on top occasionally to make sure it’s still secure and that it doesn’t have any holes or tears. That little piece of screen keeps rodents and insects from getting into your rain barrel. Mosquitoes in particular are attracted to all of that standing water, and you don’t want them laying eggs in there!
This isn’t so much a concern at this time of year, but you do want to make sure to drain the water from your barrel if temperatures are going to get below freezing. The expanding water can cause the plastic to crack, damaging your barrel.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to let that water sit for too long. Try to use the water you’ve collected within a week.
About once a year, it’s a good idea to clean out your barrel. Give it a good scrub with a hard bristled brush and a 1:1 solution of water and white vinegar. This will help prevent your barrel from taking on a funky smell and ensure that you’re not spreading any bacteria into your garden. This is especially important if you’re using your collected water to maintain food plants.
Do any of you use a rain barrel for your gardens? We’d love to hear your tips and experiences in the comments!