Living Green: Installing a rain barrel

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SARASOTA - The rainy season is now behind us, and from now until next summer, our plants and gardens will on occasion, need some extra help. You can do that with a rain barrel.

More and more people are discovering how beneficial they can be. A couple of years ago, ABC 7’s Scott Dennis bought his own and installed it in his backyard. It cost $90 at Lowe's, and holds 50 gallons of free water sent to me from the heavens above.

The installation is really very simple. First, you need a solid base to set the barrel on. Scott used a large patio stone. It needs to be solid, because when the barrel is full of water it will weigh 450 pounds.

Next you have to trim the downspout from a gutter. Measure it just above where the rain barrel will sit, then cut it with a hacksaw and a metal cutter. Then re-install the curved downspout, drill a new hole, and screw it into place.

Then it’s time to install the barrel's hardware. It comes with an overflow hose on the top, and another hose on the bottom. This is the one you'll use to water your plants.

Then all you have to do is wait for some rain. One storm can fill the 50-gallon barrel in only a half an hour.

Lowe's still sells this particular rain barrel, but now it costs $20 less. And most home improvement stores have many more options than just a couple of years ago.

You can also get one through county extension services in the area for only $37. In fact, they offer monthly workshops on how to use and install a rain barrel. The next one in Sarasota County is set for Saturday, November 17th. For more information, just go to