Cool, clean and collected
Maintain your rain barrel year-round
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.