|I got my first rain barrel, a Systern model, during a City of Houston distribution campaign a few years ago (I lived in Houston before moving to League City). It appeared to be well-made, but it quickly developed this huge stress fracture in the front of it. The City of Houston actually replaced it for me free of charge (and did so for other folks whose barrels had also failed), but my replacement began leaking even more quickly than the first one had.|
|The City of League City recently undertook its own rain barrel campaign which saw about 200 takers, according to Galveston County Daily News (paywalled). I am not familiar with this brand but I sure hope that those 200 buyers have better luck with their barrels than I've had with mine.|
But that's a really, really big "IF". What I'm going to do below is show you a series of photos that tell a brand new rain barrel story with a surprise ending. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you must think that my entire life is one endless procession of rainbows and butterflies because every home improvement project that I lay my hands to magically turns out to yield a benefit that is ten times worth the effort I put into it. Well, I'm here to tell you that ain't true, and this story will illustrate it in spades.
|However this is our front yard I'm talking about, and so whatever I install here has to have maximum attractiveness. I fell in love with this Sam's Club offering (left side of photo). It has a nice textured surface, the color coordinates perfectly with our brick, and there's a planter in the top of it so that you can put plants that will grow and cascade over the side and disguise the fact that the rain barrel is even present.|
|Tap to expand. Basically this is a reference to the fact that POAs and HOAs cannot prohibit residential rainwater harvesting in Texas. However, it is within their authority to place limits on how homeowners design their systems, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they're going to want to see installations that are as attractive as possible. And I can't blame them for that. |
Screengrabbed from this Texas Water Development Board site.
|Dry fit, before I created a stable base. With screening plantings and whatnot, you can see that this barrel could be made to be inconspicuous.|
|I started by removing one of our foundation shrubs.|
|Then I scraped off the mulch to expose the sand layer emplaced by the builder. I used a tamper to compact it.|
|Soil compaction is good exercise for the core and arms.|
|Addition of limestone gravel to help with under-drainage. Also compacted.|
|On top of the limestone, a layer of decomposed granite and then cinder blocks on top of that, making sure to keep everything absolutely level.|
|12" x 12" caps on top of the cinder blocks.|
|This basically creates a robust 2' x 2' pad. And the open sides of the cinder blocks can serve as toad houses.|
|Except in my case, I blocked off the toad-house holes so that the surrounding soil and mulch would not spill into them.|
|Now for the barrel preparation. This one needed an overflow hole to be drilled. Very important because excess water needs to be conveyed away from your slab.|
|A rain barrel is, indeed, a good idea - but only if it is properly designed, constructed, and installed.|
|Overflow port successfully drilled.|
|Some simple fittings from the hardware store for the overflow tube.|
|You can pick up these white plastic flex pieces for about a buck and a half at hardware store. Here you can see the top planter in the barrel.|
|We simply re-routed the existing downspout. If I were keeping this assemblage, I would paint the white plastic piece to match the downspout so that it looks cohesive and inconspicuous.|
|In order to test the final configuration, we (sigh) unrolled 30 feet of garden hose and ran the water into the rain gutter to simulate rainwater run-off. |
And guess what happened next??
|Wikipedia's explanation of the bathtub curve, which describes the nature of engineering failures. Apparently many would beg to differ with me on my essential distinction between "infant mortality" and "stillborn".|
|Out of stock? Really? And how many other hapless would-be-greenie consumers in our local area have experienced what I've shown above??|
Screengrabbed on June 8, 2014 from this site.
Meanwhile, best wishes to the 200 of you who recently purchased rain barrels from the City of League City. May you have better luck with your barrels than I have had with all of mine.