Abandoning the Tap: Considering Water Containment


We at the Kinky Hose Garden Project absolutely love the idea of rain water containment. The benefits are numerous, from the health of our garden to the health of our community. What follows herein is a brief case for water containment and some ideas we are considering.

Tap Water or Top Soil?

Rain water provides oxygenated, un-chlorinated water, which is ideal for plants. Moreover, chlorinated water from the tap kills microorganisms in the top soil or in your compost bin. We hate the thought of killing beneficial microbes in our topsoil every time we water our plants. Luckily, microorganism populations reproduce very quickly, so this may or may not be a big deal. That being said, why fight the life in your garden at all if you can devise better methods?


Of course, less dependence of the city water supply is just good economic sense. If we can reduce our bills, our dollar-to-plant ratio goes down, and our garden is that much closer to sustainable. We estimate that we have about 500 square feet of water collection area from our roof on the east side of the house. If we can redirect rainwater from the rear of the house into our containment system as well, we’re talking about over 1,000 square feet of collection area.

Now, every square foot of collection area collects 0.6 gallons of water with one inch of rain. That comes to 600 gallons of water. That means we would need 11 55-gallon barrels to contain one inch of rain. We don’t even enough room to hold that many barrels.

Reduce Pollution

Rain barrels collect rain. That seems simple enough, right? But that in turn reduces nonpoint source pollution due to residential storm runoff. The EPA has this to say about nonpoint source pollution:

NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters.

If more of us use rain collection of some sort, we go a long way to reducing this source of pollution.

Drainage Control

With water barrels (or other containment), we can now control the water flow around our home. Proper rain containment has an overflow, and with such utilities in place, we can direct excess storm water to the places we want it to go. Our containment zone is on the east wall of the back yard, along a narrow corridor of lawn near the neighboring fence. We can direct the overflow to the front of the house, where our front landscaping can benefit.

Water Conservation

Rain barrels conserve water in the summer, when demand is the highest. Our driest month in the Oklahoma growing season is July, which averages 2.42 inches. That is over 1400 gallons of water during a high-demand month that we do not need to stress our city utility to obtain.


Rain barrels are relatively cheap. I just checked Ebay. One 55-gallon, food-grade barrel is under $50. With a little scrounging, I imagine I can find better deals. Even if I don’t, that comes to just under $1 per gallon of fresh rain water. And THAT is if I only use it ONCE… which we won’t. What was your last water bill? In short time, these barrels will pay for themselves. Now, you can get creative. With some searching, you may find any number of aesthetic solutions that complement your garden.

Time to Plan

Phase II of the Kinky Hose Garden Project involves some sort of rain containment system, but we are only now in the planning stages. We will update you all as we progress.

Below are some interesting sites with cool ideas we are considering. We are liking the 330-gallon drum idea (simply for their gargantuan volume), but they’re more expensive and not very aesthetically pleasing. A series of raised 55-gallon rain barrels seem more likely.

The following list provides a few sources on the Internet we are looking at for DIY barrels:

We are interested in your stories as well, so please share your ideas, links, successes, and (if you’re up to it) your failures in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.


Photo courtesy of Charles Thompson




3 responses to “Abandoning the Tap: Considering Water Containment

  1. Great idea for water conservation and rainwater is undoubtedly better for the garden anyway. We have a well out here in the country so there are no water bills. I thought that made us self sufficient but the well pump is controlled by electricity. Ah well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Abanding the Tap: Considering Water Containment | The Kinky Hose Garden Project | WORLD ORGANIC NEWS·

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