Downspouts drain large amounts of water during rainy portions of the year. Utilize this water by either directly irrigating plants, storing it for later or indirectly draining it via a chain. Taking steps to use this water will save money and improve outdoor areas of the home. Adding a downspout to an existing irrigation system will also make watering plants easier.
Plant a Garden
Downspouts present two distinct problems to homeowners: they soak the lawn and can look unattractive. Plant a downspout garden to solve both problems. Select plants that will appreciate the moist, damp ground while also hiding your downspout from view. To irrigate the garden, place some medium-sized rocks near the bottom of the downspout. The rocks will help displace the water while minimizing mud and erosion. Prepare the soil surrounding the rocky area for your flowers. A local nursery can recommend species of flowers that survive best in damp soil, and also in your particular climate. Tall, colorful, moisture-loving flowers such as Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium spp.) will help camouflage the pipe leading to the downspout opening as well.
Collect the Water
Depending on the climate, a considerable amount of rain will pour through a downspout each year. Collect this water in a barrel during the winter and spring to lessen water usage in the summer months. A large plastic barrel is ideal for capturing water. Attach a spigot to the bottom so you can empty small amounts for watering houseplants or flowers. The spigot must be securely sealed or the collected water will force it from the barrel. Adding a washer helps to offset the water pressure. Make two holes at the top of the barrel: one for the downspout connection and one for overflow. Use multiple barrels by connecting tubes via the overflow holes. Take care to seal the barrels or mosquito larva will inhabit them during the summer months. Place the barrels atop a box or level stones to ease the filling of watering cans.
Hang a Chain
To create an attractive and inexpensive water feature, hang a chain from your rain gutter where the downspout would be. Thick chains or a series of smaller chain links will drip water from the gutter down to the barrel and store it for later use. Use an old-fashioned wooden barrel for a rustic look. Use the chain to channel water into a flower garden or into an irrigation system. A chain leading to a simple PVC pipe inside of a planter box attractively bridges the distance from the downspout. Chains come in a variety of metals that will work with your home’s color scheme. Hanging a bamboo piece that leads into the chain from the gutter complements yards with Asian styling.
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