Friday, September 23, 2011

Back porch rain barrel,
strapped to the wall as a babyproofing measure
Rain Barrels!

Huge thanks to awesome Ivan and Heather of the City of Culver City/Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission for installing my two new rain barrels. I love them!

The rain barrels are part of a rainwater harvesting pilot program designed to help save ecologically expensive aqueduct water, prevent polluted city runoff from entering the bay, and keep rainwater where it falls, enriching the land and recharging groundwater supplies.

I've been trying DIY rain barrels for years--there was the year I put our green bin under a downspout, and the year I put 15 five-gallon buckets under the eaves--but it's always been a kludgy mess.

These barrels are repurposed commercial barrels (they originally contained Greek green peppers!) with filters installed on top to keep out mosquitos and debris, plus overflow hoses that can port water directly another location, usually the garden or a nearby container plant. They're set up on a concrete blocks allowing room for a bucket or watering can to collect water from gravity-fed faucet near the bottom of the barrel.

We had the first barrel installed last month and I liked the first rain barrel so much I had Heather and Ivan come back today to install a second one. The first barrel sits our back porch under a gutter that just pours absolute fountains of water during any kind of rain event.

Front driveway rain barrel,
with new BFF Senorita Bougainvillea
The second sits next to our front porch, and that downspout empties onto a vast miserable expanse of concrete driveway. Until we get around to replacing the impermeable concrete with permeable pavers, thereby allowing rainwater to enter the soil, the rain barrel is good second choice for slowing the runoff from our house to the storm drains. We about three blocks from Ballona Creek, and during a winter storm our local drainage ditch becomes a raging river, sadly full of city trash. It's sad to see Ballona on the days it lives up to its full potential as a body of water, only to be brought low again by an infestation of bobbing styrofoam cups and Powerade bottles.

The front-porch barrel sits next to a bougainvillea plant (thanks to Ivan for fighting off the bougainvillea's thorns to modify the downspout and install the barrel), and I think I'm going to add a potted orange tree on the other side of the corner, in part to make best use of the new water source, and in part to block our view of the neighbors' kitchen. Hee.

View of the side yard: Fig tree,
wood pile for wildlife, five compost bins
Ivan and Heather graciously strapped down the one on the back porch as a safety measure, but I totally forgot to ask them to do something similar to the front porch one, so I'm going to hit a hardware store in the near future (before it rains and the barrel starts filling with heavy water!) and get a strap for that one as well. Toddlers will find a way to do crazy things and hurt themselves in crazy ways.

Anyway, the rainy season should begin sometime in October and I can't wait to see how it all goes! In the meantime, I'm including sexy bonus photos of my compost bins for your amusement. I fill these guys up with fall leaves, kitchen waste and lawn trimmings in the summer and fall, and then take the tops off in the winter to let the rain add the last key ingredient: moisture.

The alligator lizards live in bin three, just in case you were curious.

The end.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I'm curious to see how much water you get in So Cal. Our neighbors have a rain barrel and it is already overflowing! Of course, we live in a very rainy part of the country.