Cool, clean and collected

Maintain your rain barrel year-round

By Tara Nolan

rain barrel

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Whether you’re connecting a rain barrel to your downspout for the first time or you’re a veteran water collector, there are a few things you can do to keep your container in tiptop shape. Master gardener Cathy Kozma with Toronto Master Gardeners has some tips:

At the beginning of the season:

  • Check that there are no cracks in the barrel, hoses or any of the connections.
  • Check for holes in your screened lid.
  • Make sure the spigot (or shut-off valve) is well oiled and working smoothly.
  • Ensure none of your pieces are missing.

During the season:

  • Remove anything that will decompose, especially leaves.
  • Stir the water every few days and drain every week or two if the water is unused.
  • To prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs, add a tablespoon of dish soap or 1⁄4 cup of vegetable oil to form a film on the top of the water.
  • A diverter should be part of your rain barrel so overflow can be redirected away from the foundation of your house.

Before the winter:

  • Empty your rain barrel completely. (Turn it upside down if you can.)
  • Make sure the shut-off valve is in the open position.
  • Turn the diverter on so that water will not flow into the barrel.

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