First-Time Rain Barrel Owner [Interview]


Jan Flor had never given much thought to owning a rain barrel. But when she heard in November 2014 that Keep Los Angeles Beautiful was giving away free 55-gallon rain barrels that had been repurposed from Coca-Cola corn syrup tubs, she rushed to sign up.

“I thought, Wow, this would be a really easy way to save water in LA,” says the Slymar resident. But when she went to KLAB’s rain barrel website, the reservations were all taken. Instead of being disappointed, Flor was excited. “It’s awesome that so many people are interested in rain barrels.”

Maybe that was good karma, because a spot opened up for the very last seminar. We sat down with the rain barrel newbie to talk about her experience and learned a few tricks for the best way to harvest the rain.

This was your first time installing a rain barrel. Was it easy? Very easy. KLAB set everything up nicely. The spigots and the colander on top were already in place. I just needed a couple of cinderblocks to put it on. I stopped by the hardware store on the way home. I’m glad I did, because the forecast called for rain and the barrel is heavy—even when empty. Get it up before it fills up!

So you got to test out the rain barrel right away. I was disappointed at first, because there was so much rain in January that the barrel filled up quickly. I wish I had had two more rain barrels!

How long did it take you to use all of the water? The water we collected lasted us until early February. We have low-water cacti garden, which I seldom water, many of our plants are drought-tolerant and we don’t have a grass lawn.

How did you use the water? I used a quart-sized watering can to water all of my plants inside and outside. I like to soak our outdoor trees; we have a Norfolk pine and a fig tree in a pot that’s about 7 feet tall. I connected a hose to the rain barrel and left it in the pot. I also used the water to fill a small fountain we have.

What do you think of how it looks? It fits well into our backyard. I considered painting our barrel and decided not to paint. I like the clean white barrel look and I like to be able see the exact water level.

Any downsides? The water doesn’t come out fast, and there isn’t any water pressure control. So it takes time, particularly with the hose. I fill my watering can from the spigot, which you can turn up, and that doesn’t take long to fill.

What advice do you have for someone thinking of getting a rain barrel? It has been a great project. You can do a lot to help with this drought. Rain barrels are something you can do that doesn’t cost a lot and saves on your water bill.

Want to know more? Check out our new rain barrels and cisterns pages for tips on where to get one, how to install it and ways to use all of that captured rainwater properly.



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