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The Benefits of Rain Barrels

Feb 25, 2016

By AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador Brigid Kane-Miller

Rain barrels can be used during the spring, summer and fall months to collect water runoff from rooftops through your home’s downspout. The barrels have a spigot for attaching a hose or filling a watering can. 

Here are a few reasons why you should consider adding one to your outdoor area.

Conserves Water, Saves Money

Rain barrels help you conserve water and save money. Instead of using fresh water from the hose, you can use free, natural water from your rooftop to maintain your garden and lawn, even in times of drought, which can greatly reduce water bills.  

An average rainfall of 1” yields 600 gallons of water from a 1,000 square ft. roof.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 40% of water used in the summer goes towards garden and lawn irrigation.  By using a rain barrel for irrigation, the average home can save 1,300 gallons of water during the summer months. 


Left: NJ Top 10 Beaches Rain Barrel Contest on Display in ACUA Garden; Top Right: Hand-painted rain barrel from former workshop attendee; Top Bottom: Past Rain Barrel Workshop attendees.

Makes Healthy Plants

Water collected from rain barrels is free of minerals found in tap water and is highly oxygenated, which makes it ideal for watering both indoor and outdoor plants. The water increases overall health and also encourages strong root development.

Prevents Pollution & Flooding

Rain barrels limit runoff pollution.  As water flows from roofs onto impervious surfaces, it collects pollutants such as fertilizers, oil, and pesticides that can be washed into nearby waterways through storm drains without treatment.  By placing rain barrels under downspouts, this runoff is reduced while also preventing flooding, erosion, and mold around the home.

Recharges Groundwater

Using water collected from a rain barrel for irrigation helps to recharge groundwater, which is where most water originates.


Water from rain barrels can also be used for washing pets or cars and filling birdbaths. They can also make excellent outdoor decorations when painted like in the images above.