The landscaping here at Taylor features perennials, which works out great, since we don’t have a gardener on staff. Our excellent handyman, George, hits the flowerbeds every month or so, but he has loads to do anyway, so low maintenance is the way to go. One of the nice things about perennials is that they are pretty water-efficient, especially if you get something that is native / regional. This is leading to the fact that we at Taylor don’t collect rainwater for watering our plants, but for homeowners, rainwater is a great gimme. Granted, water prices in this area are cheap (thank you, Mahomet Aquifer!), but why turn down free water?
The last several years have seen a boom in the rain barrel market, with scores of different models out there to meet any budget or décor choice. Many of the big box DIY stores carry multiple models, and even smart nursery owners are getting in on it.
You can take your rain barrel purchase a green step further and get one that is a reused food barrel. Our barrel is from Kraft. A local entrepreneur got a hold of several of these and turned them into rain barrels, then sold them at the farmer’s market. And if you’re handy and can lay your hands on a barrel, you can make your own. Take a look at your local Craigslist or other local sources for a barrel, since shipping a reused barrel across the country kind of cuts down on the green aspect…
While it may not be crucial in the Midwest to store water for the dry times, in the drier areas of the South and West, it makes a lot of sense. There, when things get dry, watering restrictions go into effect, which don’t apply to rain barrel water. Though considering how dry last summer was here in central Illinois, I am thinking of getting a second one. And a rain barrel is so incredibly easy to set up! A few cinder blocks, a flexible downspout, and you’re good to go. The darker ones can do double duty as chalk art target, if you have kids in that age range. If you don’t think a reused / utilitarian barrel quite fits your idea of curb appeal, you can try hiding it.
Tell us if you’ve adopted a rain barrel into your family, or maybe if you have a secret stash of old food barrels you’d like to sell!
Next step, gray water reclamation. (Sounds yummy!)