Anne Roberts Gardens barrel2

8 Benefits of Rain Barrels

Chicago’s rainy spring has provided a great start to the growing season, but how can you keep your garden watered throughout the hot, summer months? Add rain barrels to your yard!

Rain barrels are relatively easy to install and can be positioned anywhere you have a downspout. They’re designed to be a catch basin for your already existing gutter system, but consider how you’re going to use the water it collects to determine exactly where to put it. If you want to water your vegetable garden, install it nearby and consider an irrigation system that will connect to the barrel. You may need to add an elbow attachment to a downspout or cut the downspout to a specific length for your rain barrel.

While you can place your rain barrel on the ground, consider elevating it with some sort of a platform. You can purchase specially designed platforms that coordinate with your barrel, repurpose your leftover patio pavers, build a homemade platform, or go simple and use cinder blocks. Without water pressure, you have to rely on gravity to get the water out. Adding a platform makes removing the water from the rain barrel much easier, regardless of whether you’re using a hose, an irrigation system, or filling a watering can from the spigot.

If you have enough space you can even consider connecting two or more rain barrels so you can capture as much rain as possible during the heaviest of storms.

Benefits of a rain barrel

  • Reduces flooding, especially in urban settings
  • Collects water for your garden instead of your (and your neighbor’s) basement
  • Keeps you from using (and paying for) your drinking-quality water on your yard and garden
  • The water can be used on your indoor plants, too
  • It can also be used to clean hands, tools, shoes, and even pets!
  • Many are made out of recycled materials
  • Provides natural resource to your plants
  • Easy to maintain: Just use the water in your rain barrel to make room for more rain!


Afraid your rain barrel will be an eye sore? These days manufacturers are quite creative with rain barrel design. A quick Internet search can turn up fun, creative styles that will coordinate with any yard décor!

For more information on rain barrels and other ways to manage storm water at home, check out this brochure from the City of Chicago.

About The Author

Anne Roberts
Anne Roberts
Chicago Landscaper, Master Gardener, Green Roof Specialist & Degreed Horticulturist at Anne Roberts Gardens

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