Be it drought, a watering ban, or simply an aversion to expensive water bills, there are plenty of reasons a rain barrel or two come in handy.
We've collected a few of our favorites for preserving gallons of pure precipitation, so when gray skies become sunny and blue, a garden stays green.
These reconditioned rain barrels, available in 50-and 60-gallon versions, offer the option of a closed-or open-top container. A diverter system is sold with the closed-top barrel at additional cost. The food-grade plastic drum, repurposed with thorough cleaning and UV polish, features three outlets for hose connection and a nylon spigot. Free shipping.
$125 and up, from Rain Barrels and More.
An attractive alternative to the design and shape of a conventional barrel, the Madison is well suited to small urban gardens. The system features a 40-gallon polyethylene "catcher" topped with a decorative planter. The kit also includes a 3-foot overflow hose and 4-foot garden hose.
$240, from Clean Air Gardening.
With a flat-back, streamlined design, the 58-gallon barrel rests flush against the exterior of a house. Opt for the DiverterPro kit, sized to fit standard downspouts, to filter debris from rainwater and deflect overflow away from a home's foundation.
$155, including DiverterPro Rainwater Diverter, from Fiskars.
Compost Wizard Hybrid
The Compost Wizard Hybrid features a 7-cubic-foot tumbler compost bin atop a 47-gallon rain barrel. Excess liquid seeps from the bin to mix with collected rainwater for a no-fuss compost tea. The hybrid's stacked design also ensures effective use of valuable garden space.
$300, from Good Ideas.
The 50-gallon Agua is made from 3/8-inch-thick molded plastic styled to resemble an Ali Baba-style terra-cotta urn. It is guaranteed never to crack, fade, or chip, and boasts the clever addition of a planter. It comes with a 4-foot garden hose with shut-off nozzle and hose hook.
$150, from Algreen Products.
Pop-Up Rain Barrel
This collapsible rain barrel collects gallons of water in a portable, puncture-resistant tub. The 34-, 50-, or 74-gallon PVC barrel features a removable debris filter and overflow tap, and a metal zipper to access stored water. When empty, it collapses to a manageable 7 pounds for storage and transport.
$89 and up, from Greenhome.
For more ideas on how to conseve water around the home aand garden, read Going with the Flow.