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DIY workshop a great way to get a rain barrel for your yard

This past weekend, I finally did something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: I made a rain barrel. I have seen lots of rain barrels for sale, but I never wanted to spend anywhere between $60 and $80 to get one. I had also seen lots of rain barrel workshop events, but they just never fit into my schedule. The stars finally aligned on Saturday, when Bluegrass Greensource held a rain barrel workshop and I made it a priority to attend. 

If you are not familiar with Bluegrass Greensource, they are a great non-profit organization based out of Lexington. Their description on their website states “Bluegrass Greensource is THE source for all things green in central Kentucky, encouraging small steps toward a sustainable future for our communities. Formerly known as Bluegrass PRIDE, Bluegrass Greensource is a non-profit organization that provides education and resources on how we affect our environment. Since 2001, we have provided outreach to schools, community groups, businesses, local governments and citizens throughout central Kentucky.”

They are a great organization that encourages people to live more “green.” They have education programs and they also host and sponsor events like “Mainstreet Cleansweep,” which lots of Kentucky cities participate in over Earth Day weekend. During Mainstreet Cleansweep events, volunteers to clean up litter and spruce up their cities’ downtown spaces.

Bluegrass Greensource offers several rain barrel workshops each year and they are often sponsored by different businesses or organizations. The one that I went to was sponsored by American Water. To attend the workshop, I just had to sign up online, pay $20 and show up the day of the workshop. They provided all of the instruction, materials and tools I needed to make my rain barrel.

Here is a link to the Bluegrass Greensource events page on their website so you can check out what events are coming up and see if they post another rain barrel workshop: 

• bggreensource.org/whats-happening/events.

The rain barrels were actually really easy to make and I’d definitely recommend doing the workshop. I haven’t had a chance to install my rain barrel yet, but our instructor said to make sure it’s up high when we do, because then you have gravity working with you to give you more water pressure.

The good thing about having a rain barrel is that you can water your garden, wash your car, wash your dog or do any other outdoor activities that you normally would without using treated water from your house. That means that you are saving money on your water bill and you are also conserving water. You are also reducing the amount of water that has to be treated at the water treatment plant. 

If you are washing your car or pet outdoors, it’s important to make sure you are using shampoos and cleaners with all natural ingredients — but that’s a topic for another column. 

I’m really excited to get my rain barrel all hooked up so I can start collecting water and then start watering my plants with the water I collect.

Our barrel has an intake hole that hooks up to the downspout of our gutters to collect rainwater. It also has a tin vent on the top. And it has a spigot at the bottom and an overflow valve at the top where I can attach a second water hose and divert that overflow water anywhere I choose. 

I’m also planning on painting my water barrel. It’s 55 gallons of bright blue right, which is fine, but I think I’ll paint it a color that will blend in a little more with its surroundings.

I also need to get some Mosquito Dunks, which are these little discs that you can put in standing water, like what will be in my rain barrel, or in ponds, birdbaths, etc. The discs are a larvicide for mosquito larvae, and they’re supposed to be all-natural and safe to use around animals. Once I get it installed and working, I’ll write an update about how it’s going.