I recently participated in a rain barrel program hosted by The Galveston Bay Foundation. The goal is to reduce runoff into storm drains and collect water for use in personal gardens. I purchased two barrels for our garden and my darling hubby installed them with the included downspout diverter and barrel spout.
|My naked barrel.|
These plain barrels were once used to hold syrup for the Coca Cola Company. They are a semi-transparent polypropylene plastic that if left uncovered/unpainted will allow organisms to grow in the water. In the workshop, we were advised to paint the barrels to reduce the sunlight on the water and prevent said growth. The paint process includes, cleaning, sanding, priming, painting and sealing the painted barrel. The foundation even hosts contest each year for the best barrel.
I was initially excited about painting the barrels with the kids. I had visions of hand-print flowers and butterflies to bring whimsy to our garden. After considering the cost of supplies for two barrels, time commitment, and multiple steps, I changed my plan. I opted instead to cover my barrels with outdoor fabric.
This fabric is Solarium brand Wilder Cabana it resists sunlight, heat, mildew, moisture and rated to withstand 500 hours direct sunlight. I drafted a simple plan and came up with this cover.
I used spray paint for plastic to coat the barrel of the lid. I will likely cover it with plants or a fairy garden of something. The recessed areas will become a breeding ground for mosquitoes if standing water is allowed to collect there.
For the cover, I used 2, 1-yard cuts of fabric stitched side-by-side at one selvedge. I then made a 1.5 in a casing along the top of my fabric and inserted elastic through it to gather the cover. I adjusted the casing to fit the circumference of the barrel. I secured the ends of the elastic in place and added a button and loop of elastic to close it over the hose.
For the non stitched selvedge side panel with the downspout, I secured it with snap tape for easy removal.
Does this make sense? One side is stitched closed and the other is closed with snap tape. I wanted the option to remove it easily to wash it and it contained 50 gallons of water.
I have no information on the success of covering a barrel instead of painting it. I hope this cover keeps organisms out and discourages algae growth. I love the burst of color it adds to our backyard. I have another barrel that I plan to cover as well. That barrel will not be attached to the house, but will have a rain saucer. When it is ready to be put out I will share what I have done.
If you are local the Galveston Bay area, be sure check out the foundation for future workshops. If you want to learn to sew your own barrel covers, I can teach you. Email me to be added to the waitlist for my next round of sewing lessons.