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Rain barrel watering plants...

Posted by jimtnc 7b NC TTTF (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 26, 08 at 5:49

Okay, I give. How do y'all water your plants and trees from the barrels?? I'm too old to be hauling buckets of water all over my area (which I did yesterday), and the grade change just doesn't allow for static flow from a hose in most areas where the plants are. I thought about buying one of those small electric water pumps, but even those push the water too fast.

I'd be curioous to know how you folks have managed to do this.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by mrsig SC Zone 8 (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 26, 08 at 8:27

Can you raise your barrels any in order to get better downflow?

I have mine raised up on a couple of cinder blocks. You have to make sure that the platform is perfectly level since you're dealing with a LOT of weight when the barrels are full, but if you can do that then you can run a hose to the plants and get a decent water flow.

I also use a timer on my spigot in case I forget to turn it off. "Set it and forget it."


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

I use watering cans. Mostly I use the rain barrels for my baby plants and for plantings close by around the house.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

Yeah, I've got them setting up on 4 cinder blocks, 2 blocks high. That should give decent flow, but not to some areas of the yard. Just was wondering if anyone else has to backpack this stuff to the high parts of the yard, or you figured out a system?


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by mrsig SC Zone 8 (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 26, 08 at 11:10

I'm fortunate I guess that my yard slopes downward so everywhere else in the yard is below the level of my rain barrels.

I have one hose that runs to a low part of my yard that I'll move around to different plants from time to time, but most of my use is by filling a watering can and carrying it over...


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I use my wagon loaded with empty milk or ice tea bottles to cart the water everywhere. Or if I get lazy, I drop in on of those small pumps and attach the elec. cord to one of those handheld on off switches and put the end of the tube in the hose. That way the waterflow can be turned on and off with out walking all the way to the house. (The garden is about 100 feet down the yard.) I also use gravity and a hose end shut off valve to stop the flow. I've found that it is only too forceful when the barrell is full.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

mad_about_mickey - are you talking about one of those pool pumps. Not sure I understand how you solved your problem but I'd like it if you could expand on it some.


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I want to know the specifics- like how exactly you do it, too, since the bulk of my garden is uphill from my barrels. A diagram might be nice...


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by jimtnc 7b NC TTTF (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 27, 08 at 12:15

Well, not sure which way is the better one, but I ordered a little Wayne portable transfer pump to pump the water up the hill. I'll know when I get it.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

A sump pump from harbor freight works well too. Just set it in the bottom of the barrel and you can turn it on whenever you want to water the garden.

I'll tell you what I'm doing this summer. I have several koi ponds and an abundance of waste water from my filter, rich with fish waste. I am laying out a 3/4" PVC pipe (cheap) and drilling a 3/16" hole wherever the pipe is next to a plant. Ill cover the whole thing with mulch. when my filters are cleaned and dumped (at least once a week), the waste water will flow into a 300 gallon stock tank. A solid's handling sump pump will be attached to my irrigation line. Turn the pump on....all my plants get a dose of fish fertalizer and water. I'll put a low water cut-off switch in the tank so as the tank gets close to being empty, the sump pump cuts off.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

Maybe I'm being dumb, but how do you hook the pump to the hose? Do you hook it inside to the tap of the barrel or just run the hose inside, hook it to the sump under water and run it out the top?

Your setup for the waste is a great idea. Any time we clean our ponds we use the waste on the plants. I reuse my dirty fishtank water for the houseplants, too.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by jimtnc 7b NC TTTF (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 28, 08 at 10:55

Yeah, I think there's one hookup for a hose on that pump, and you just drop pump and hose down the barrel then string the hose wherever you want. Those pumps have been working fine for many years, but there's just something about mixing water and electicity that really bothers me, especially submerged.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

Know what you mean- it took me a long time to get over those willies with our pond pump. That sounds simple enough. Thanks!


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by mrsig SC Zone 8 (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 28, 08 at 15:30

Love the idea of using PVC to make a simple "soaker" system. PVC is cheap and extremely easy to customize...since there isn't much pressure involved you could probably get away with just hooking all the components together without gluing them.

I might try that with my rain barrel system. I'll put a quick connect at the end so I can hook it up quick and easy.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

Actually mrsig and taking what ccoombs1 said, I could just run the perforated PVC straight through my plant privacy screens and beds, cover it with mulch, hook up some kind of connection for a hose and let the barrel do the static flow drip thing to the plants after some testing for volume. May be worth looking in to, and an easy way to water the whole shibang.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by mrsig SC Zone 8 (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 31, 08 at 9:01

Yeah, Jim that would work for sure. The reason I mentioned a quick connect is because I have bed that's an "island" in the middle of my lawn. I don't want to dig a trench just for the purpose of running a rainbarrel-fed PVC, so I would prefer to just drag the hose from my barrel to the "island" and then connect it to the PVC via the quick-connect whenever I want to water this area.

If I had a bed that was connected to my barrels by a mulched area, a buried hose/PVC would be a piece of cake.

I also should mention that while PVC is really easy to use/connect/configure...it isn't very flexible. A possibly better option is the black flexible PVC hoses that are often used in irrigation systems (available in the home irrigation sections at the box store). Plus, these hoses are easy to puncture with a knive/screwdriver/holepunch and you could even wrap the hose around the base of a large plant for good coverage.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

yep...that black irrigation pipe might work just fine too....and it would not be as hard to hide since it's black.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by jimtnc 7b NC TTTF (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 31, 08 at 11:38

Okay, now you talked me out of the PVC thing and onto irrigation hose. I've got a dripper hose, but that thing has holes all through it. How do you keep from getting everything wet other than just the plants. Ordinarily, if I'm watering from the tap I just let it go, but I'll only have so much rain water available.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by mrsig SC Zone 8 (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 31, 08 at 12:22

You should be able to experiment with the irrigation hose to get the volumes you want...when you buy it at the big box store, look for the plastic "hole punch" that comes with it (it's plastic and usually orange)...this allows you to punch the exact size you'd need if you were installing a drip hose/nozzle into the irrigation hose. I would think that just the hole would do it, but if you're finding that results in uneven watering, you may want to buy the little nozzle thing (they're really cheap) that plugs into the hole and allows you to regulate/change the water flow.

So, for example, if you find that water is escaping the earlier holes in your irrigation hose, but not getting to the end of the hose...you could put a few regulators at the early point of the hose to slow down the flow enough that it reaches the holes in the later part of the hose.

I obviously don't know all the proper names, so I hope that's at least a little bit understandable...


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

Great suggestions. The irrigation hose seems to be the answer. Thanks Mrsig.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

In a perfect world I would be able to assign a rain barrel to every corner of my house. But my top roof has gutters that are choked with seedlings and debris - and its over 40 feet off the ground with no first floor roof to grant me access with my 12 foot ladder. Someday I'll get the neighbor to bring home the extremely tall ladders his job uses (special bribes will be needed for this to happen), I'll clean out the gutters and install gutter guards.

For now I haul water uphill from the creek. A tedious task but a good workout (who needs a gym!). Most of the garden is between the house and the creek, so I only have to haul uphill half the length of the property. I don't want rain barrels scattered about the yard and I really don't want them up beside the house either - so I would rather keep the rainbarrels down in the woods near the creek and out of sight.

So, I've devised a plan where I use the plastic jugs that the kitty litter comes in. I drill small holes up near the spout. I fill the jugs and recap them. I carry them to the bush I think could use a drink and set them down beside it. By rolling the jug onto its front side, the drilled holes act like a watering can on slow flow. If I want to water a bush with 2 gallons of water I just have to fill the jug completely - if I only want one gallon I fill it half way.

Either way - gardening is a lot of work!


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...2

  • Posted by mrsig SC Zone 8 (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 31, 08 at 12:51

John - Would a small (cheap) sump pump work for bringing the water up from your creek?

You could even use it to fill/supplement your rain barrels and then let gravity do the rest of the work to water your plants.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by jimtnc 7b NC TTTF (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 31, 08 at 13:45

Those are my thoughts. I'm getting a pump delivered today to pump water up the hill to the other barrel, then let gravity take over and water from there. I'll see how well the plan goes.


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  • Posted by mrsig SC Zone 8 (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 11, 08 at 13:25

Update -

I had an old water hose that had a bad hole in it that I thought I'd recycle as a soaker hose for a big kidney-shaped bed in the middle of my back yard. I thought I'd punch a few more holes in the hose and use it as a soaker instead of the irrigation pipe that we talked about earlier in the thread.

No dice. The rainbarrels don't push out enough water pressure to punch through all the kinks in the hose though. This method might work on a brand new hose (that hasn't developed kinked/flattened areas but that defeats the point of recycling an old one. I'm just going to have to use the irrigation hose instead.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

I don't mind the workout. Its illegal to pump water up from a creek that flows through your property - you have to have special permission. I could rig up a sump pump and run it in the dark of night but the creek is pretty far away, it would take multiple extension cords and that sorta thing isn't the best way to solve a problem.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by mrsig SC Zone 8 (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 14, 08 at 9:36

The irrigation hoses work like a charm.

I snaked a 50' hose throughout my planting bed with probably about a dozen watering "stations" (just punctured holes in the hose) along the way. The last "station" I put an extra 2 holes around the plant to give it that little bit extra since it was at the end where water pressure was weakest. Looks like I won't need flow regulators afterall.

I love it, I have this hose on a timer so all I have to do is dial it over to 15 minutes or so and I can water this bed and do other stuff. This is great because the bed is framed by 4 trees that normally take up a lot of the soil moisture and now I'll be able to give a good soaking over the summer without putting in a lot of time.


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mrsig - what did you do differently that allowed you to get it to work? Your other post said it wouldn't work.


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  • Posted by mrsig SC Zone 8 (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 14, 08 at 10:56

I purchased the black irrigation hose that I mentioned in an earlier post in this thread. My post about it not working was where I was using some leftover "garden" hose that had a hole in it already...I was hoping to recycle that for this purpose but it was too kinked up (and easily kinked) for the water to flow through.

The black irrigation hose (in the sprinkler system aisle at the store) works great but also kinks up pretty badly if you make any sharp turns with it. Fortunately, fittings are pretty cheap so you can make repairs if you get a really bad kink. Plus, you're not running a lot of pressure from the rainbarrel so the fittings don't have to be ultra tight/secure.


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  • Posted by jimtnc 7b NC TTTF (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 14, 08 at 11:36

Okay, that's what I thought you did...wanted to be sure. I have a black drip hose, but it's gonna drip all the way from one end to the other, not just where a plant is, but I guess that's okay too. It's still a semi-auto application.


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Hi all! I'm gonna jump in here and say I am delighted to propose this irr. hose option to my hubby. I have been trying to figure out smarter ways to use my rain barrels for about five years. You guys seem knowledgeable so I have a question:

Do any of you that use a pump to up the flow from your barrels attach something(nozzle, spray wand, soaker hose, etc) to the other end of the outlet hose? I have read that these pumps do not like back pressure so I am worried about putting anything on the far end of the pump outlet hose that might slow up the flow of water and screw with the pump. Any tips or experience?

*crossing fingers that the predicted 34 degree low holds for tomorrow night* Think warm thoughts everyone! My Fringe Tree beseeches you!

Meredith


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by mrsig SC Zone 8 (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 14, 08 at 15:43

I've got my fingers crossed too Meredith. I have some (most) azaleas that have yet to peak and a transplanted hydrangea I'm a little concerned about.

Anyway, can't help you with the pump question, as I only use God's/Nature's pump for my rainbarrels...that being gravity...


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Meredith - I bought a small water transfer pump to move water from a lower barrel locations up to a higher barrel so I could static flow the plants from that point. I haven't installed it yet or even tried the pump (been too busy), but I would think that these type pumps don't like reverse pressure since they aren't much more than static flow themselves. I need another barrel or move one to try my system, but I've got all summer.


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This is an informative thread full of knowledgable people, so I hope somebody has a clue as to what I'm doing wrong. I have a 150 gallon container I'm using as a rainbarrel. It's about 6' in diameter and 25" tall. I purchased a 1hp submersible pump from harbor frieght designed for 3300 gph. I put it in the barrel full of water and it would hardly push any water out of a 15' hose(no better than siphoning). I tried a 1/2 hp clear water pump first designed to suck water out from outside the tank, but it wouldn't even pull any water out at all. Any ideas where I went wrong? I did have the input and output right. My water heavier here in Mi?


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I use a sump pump from Lowes for my rain barrels. My DH hooked up the five barrels I have with those male/female quick connect attachments. I also purchased a tiny little sprinkler for 3 dollars when I bought the sump pump and it works really well with the sump pump. I think the pump was about 85 dollars. I run about a 20 foot hose off of the pump and about a five foot hose from the barrel to the pump so that gives me about 25 feet to work with. I can't get everything with them but the barrels have really come in handy. I hope this helps. Adele


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by jimtnc 7b Raleigh TTTF (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 18, 08 at 5:43

I have what's called a small transfer pump (see link), but unfortunately I haven't had the chance to put it to work yet. I will when we get back from a little beach trip. Matter of fact, when it's raining frequently I forget all about it, but now it's starting to get dry again so I better get it working.

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

That looks basically like the one I use. They work well. Adele


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Just saw a demonstration today similar to what you all are talking about on this thread. This man used a golf cart battery to start the pump but also had a small solar panel (approx. $60) that he said would work, too. I was quite impressed but cannot do all of that or any of the above UNLESS hubbie helps. I am very challenged with any kind of tool and hookup devices. Anyway, thought I would share about the battery and the solar panel. Oh, we filled some buckets with water from the lake, and I was distressed to see all the tadpoles in there, so I had to take all four buckets back to the lake and pour the tadpoles out. Guess I got my workout that day! I am too soft hearted..or soft headed.


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rcrescue,
Couldn't you have let the tadpoles live in a bucket until they became toads or frogs and then let them out into the garden where they could eat your slugs?
Tina


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Tina..you might read the older thread I started a couple years back about tadpoles in my wheelbarrow with rainwater.
A natural water source provides the algae and other food sources for polliwogs and tadpoles to develop. It also is large enough for the weaker ones to escape being eaten by earlier hatchlings and it is ,by virtue of depth, less likely to scald the little critters that have to surface to breathe.
I finally netted and transported my little woggies to a nearby pond because 1. they weren't developing fast enough
2. toads and frogs continued to use the wheelbarrow water to lay more eggs 3. I needed to use my wheelbarrow.


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Hi y'all. Hubby and I have made 5 rain barrels. Ours are soda syrup barrels. We used the bung to attach the spigot. In the
center of the the bung we found ours had 3/4" threads. Although it was sealed over, we were able to drill out the seal
without damaging the threads. We then attached a 3/4" threaded 2" nipple, a threaded elbow, another nipple and
then a pvc 1/4 turn ball valve, and another 3/4" threaded nipple to attach a hose to. Everything was wrapped
with teflon tape and silcone caulk was used on the bung and the overflow hose then we turned it upside down
and cut a hole for the downspout. About 2 or 3" from the top we drilled a hole just big enough for another
3/4" threaded nipple. This was used for a overflow hose. It also could be used to add another barrel.
another option we are considering is stacking the barrels. Using the bung hole we would put a pvc pipe
from the top barrel to the the bottom barrel, thus using only one spigot and giving more pressure. I use
the rain water quite frequently to water my many flower beds. I attach another hose to the spigot and
run it to where I need it. A full barrel will put out a 4' spray from a sprinkler until about the barrel is half full. Like I said earlier the threads on the bung are 3/4" you could attach a garden hose and a shutoff valve on the end of the hose.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

  • Posted by jimtnc 7b Raleigh tttf (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 20, 09 at 5:55

You're kidding?? I've never got any pressure to spray anything unless hooked up to a pump. I can get static pressure enough to run a hose (if it's downhill) to water some areas, but that's it.


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RE: Rain barrel watering plants...

The barrels are sitting on 3 cement stones we had around the flower beds. Had trouble uploading photos. Follow the link you can see what else Hubby & I have been up to.

http://photos.gardenweb.com/garden/galleries/2009/08/south_flower_bed.html


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