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Conserve water and take care of your lawn and garden using rain barrels

Remember that old saying, "Everything old is new again?" Rain barrel systems are currently seeing a resurgence, despite the fact that people have collected rainwater for centuries. People started relying on well water and water from municipal supplies for their lawns and gardens because it was quicker and easier, but the recent push for water conservation and green practices has brought it back to the forefront.

Water conservation is important for a number of reasons. We don't have an endless supply of water. In fact, 97 percent of water is undrinkable because its salt water from the oceans. Wasting water also puts a strain on wastewater systems. In rural areas, the less water you use, the longer a life your home's septic system will have. In urban areas, conserving water means saving money on utility bills and reducing utility companies' usage of electricity and chemicals to treat wastewater.

Currently, rain barrel systems are not allowed in certain areas. Check with government officials to make sure you're allowed to set up one. If they are permitted, select a rain barrel from among Sears' garden tools. For example, the Rain Wizard is made out of strong, durable recycled resin. It's made to look like an oak barrel and the material is UV-resistant so the color won't fade, making it more attractive, and it holds up to 50 gallons of rainwater. The plastic screen mesh on top helps keep out bugs, animals and debris. The overflow is on the front, keeping excess moisture away from your home. It has a flat-back design so it sits right up against your home. No need to worry about purchasing downspout parts.

After you purchase your rain barrel from Sears, select a location for it. Garden carts come in handy when you need to get the barrel to its designated spot. You'll need a level surface so the barrel doesn't tip over, because they are h-e-a-v-y when full. In fact, a full 50-gallon barrel can weigh more than 400 pounds. The most important step is to place your barrel under a downspout. That ensures that you're not just collecting rainwater from the area of the barrel, you're getting the entire surface area served by the downspout.

You'll also need to elevate your rain barrel, at least a foot above the ground. You'll want the water level in the barrel to be higher than the spigot to which the garden hose is attached in order for the water to flow out. A slightly higher elevation will make it easier to interact with the spigot. For basic installation, you'll need to cut the gutter just above the top of the rain barrel. Then attach the downspout elbow to direct the flow of water in. If your house has gutters that go directly into the ground, you'll need to purchase a rainwater diverter kit that pumps the water back up so it can go into the barrel.

Next, set up an overflow system. During a heavy rain, hundreds of gallons of water can drain down from your roof. You don't want water pooling near your house's foundation and making a mess of your flower bed. You can add 3 to 6 feet of tubing to allow the excess to drain far away from your house. You can also set up a series of barrels so that after the first fills up, it will overflow to the second and so on. A few notes on safety. Covers keep children from getting inside. When water freezes, it expands, so disconnect the system before winter. Otherwise, the barrel can fill with ice, leading it to burst like a soda can.

Adding a rain barrel system to your house can be an easy and practical way to save money and help the environment. Count on Sears to have all the lawn and garden supplies you need to save you money and time.

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