Experts and BHG readers answer.
Do I need to do anything other than direct the downspout from the roof into a barrel to catch rainwater for planting?
Rainwater is usually a good source of water for houseplants or plants in your landscape. You can buy ready-made rain barrels from mail-order garden suppliers, but you can also make your own from a 55-gallon drum, some PVC couplings, and a length of hose. Place the barrel on a solid base of gravel or sand under a downspout. Direct the flow of water into the barrel. It helps to use a screen over the downspout to prevent debris from washing into and collecting in the barrel. Place a tight-fitting lid on the barrel to keep out mosquitoes. (You want to avoid creating a breeding ground for carriers of West Nile virus.) Place a spigot in the lower portion of the barrel to drain the water for use in the landscape. (Keep the spigot at least several inches above the bottom of the barrel to keep it from being clogged from sediment that may wash into the barrel.) An overflow pipe near the top of the barrel is a handy option. The overflow can be directed into a second barrel or simply aimed away from the house's foundation.