Pretty Rain Barrels and The USPS that Lose Them

Rain BarrelRain barrels tend to be ugly, monstrous things that you hide in the back corner of your house or risk the neighbors wondering when you are going to be sharing the moonshine you are distilling. I have seen these beasts for sale at the garden centers. All blue or orange and scary looking. Well, they are not all that scary looking, but the $300 price tag is. Something that expensive should not be that ugly or so obviously not natural looking. How do you hide a huge, ugly barrel???

So when I was asked by Garden Supermart if I wanted to review a rain barrel, I was a little apprehensive. Where would I fit an ugly giant barrel in my little bitty yard?  What if it was a blue barrel?  There is no hiding a blue barrel.  But they assured me that their rain barrels were neither ugly nor blue. I was delighted and I agreed. And thus began the Great Rain Barrel Postal Adventure.

If you live in the US, you know that the incompetence of the United States Postal Service can sometimes achieve epic proportions. If ever there was a poster child for why government monopolies are a really bad idea, the USPS is it.   Individual emplyees can be good (my mailman Leon and my Grandpa who worked for them being two examples) but the organization as a whole leaves something to be desired.  Case in point, it appears that the USPS has the singularly unique ability to lose a package that is larger than your average baby elephant.

After one month, 3 trips to the post office and one exasperating conversation with a Postal Supervisor, they were finally able to locate the rain barrel, which had apparently had been sitting in the middle of their sorting room the entire time, playing a rousing game of Captain Obvious hide and seek.

Anyway, I finally got the rain barrel home, and I do have to say that I was duly impressed. It was not blue nor was it ugly. As a matter of fact, it was terracotta colored and pretty enough that I elected to install it under a downspout on the front of my house, conveniently located near my container plants.

The barrel itself is made from a formed plastic but two different neighbors commented on the fact that they had mistaken the rain barrel for a genuine terracotta jar. It is light enough for me to carry with one hand, but did not feel flimsy or cheap.

I was a little disappointed by the fact that the rain barrel did not come with directions. While there is only a little assembly involved, I did have to correct my husband when he installed it as he figured that top screen was simply an extraneous part thrown in to waste money. While he would have assumed that anyway (as he does not read directions), it would have saved my 10 minutes of arguing with him on the matter if I just had a picture to point to.

And as a note, not good or bad, the hose that leads off the barrel is a very tight fit. Very difficult to get on, but that and the hose clamp ensure that your barrel will not leak.

The price of the largest size rain barrel is comparable to the price of the ugly blue barrel I saw at the garden center the other day, which means you can get style and functionality for the same price.   The one I have is actually less than that as it sells for $159.99 plus shipping.

All in all, I was pleased with my new rain barrel. My only real complaint is that you might want to check and see if they can deliver it via UPS or FedEx, who have to do their jobs in order to stay in business.

33 thoughts on “Pretty Rain Barrels and The USPS that Lose Them
  1. I froth!!!! About time someone came up with a pretty rain barrel! Price is still astronomical for my budget though. Bummer.

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  2. bfmomma on

    Wow! It *is* beautiful! But the price is in no way comparable to the ugly ones. We just picked up our first ugly one (we chose white over blue ;)) for $30. I guess that’a a steal!

    It sure is purty, though…

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  3. kate the kid on

    I understand your complaints about the USPS, but I have had an even WORSE time with UPS…we actually tease about the “opps” people (not “Up-s”). That would be cool if I had downspouts down here…we live (rent) in an old farm house in NC and they apparentally didn’t believe in gutters or downspouts when the built it, but with hurricanes, I can understand they would be likely to be ripped right off the house, but still… (used to live in Columbus, OH..miss them)

    Love the new rain barrel, I thought that it was a *bit* delayed…glad to hear that it is working well for you.

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  4. Steph on

    Is it round or does it have a flat side? I can’t tell from your picture or the site. I definitely covet your rain barrel.

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  5. That is indeed a beautiful looking rain barrel.

    I got a big ugly blue barrel from craigslist for $10 and converted it into a rain barrel myself for another maybe $10-15. I wrapped it about three times with burlap to cover the ugly blueness of it. It looks and works great and you can’t beat the price.

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  6. Nancy on

    You are hilarious! I love reading your articles. I am a new subscriber, and not only do you give good information, you put a smile on my face! Thank you!

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  7. Now that’s a damn fine rain barrel, though it seems rather small. So, does the company build overflow barrels to accomodate big storms? How about a really big one on stilts so the water pressure is better? Yeah, um… I’ll just go to the website.

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  8. Rebecca on

    About the usps, its not all of them that make mistakes just like ups or fed ex..in fact there are employees in every orginization that don’t care.

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  9. I’m jealous of both your awesome looking rain barrel and the fact that people want you to review their awesome looking rain barrels. :)

    You may want to let it sit on some concrete blocks or pavers to raise it up a bit. Because it’ll be hard to fill a watering can with that hose unless you can get it lower than the barrel.

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  10. Looks great but after it fills where does the overflow go? spills out the top? My Aquabarrel WAS very ugly until we painted it and hid it behind a few vines. The overflow port on the Aquabarrel is huge and it has never overflowed next to the foundation of our home! They ship via FedEx Ground and those guys are great. The website: http://www.aquabarrel.com also has downspout filters, downspout diverters, first flush units and lots more.

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  11. Gorgeous!

    I’ve been looking at adding a rain barrel to my garden. This is food for thought…

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  12. One thing you have to consider with rains barrels is drainage. The idea of your down spout is to channel the water well away from your home. You need to make sure that you have a good enough grade that when this thing over flows it is channeled away from your home. It is also a good idea to have some kind of over flow tube the carries the overflow three or more feet from your foundation.

    I know this first hand, I had a rain barrel the had a massive over flow that went right in my basement, big big mess!

    _____________________________________________
    Check out my veggie garden blog:
    http://veggiegardenblog.blogspot.com/

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  13. I have never owned a rain barrel, so I have a question that may be obvious to everyone else. Won’t one good rain cause the barrel to overflow?

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  14. JayinTenn:
    yes the average rain barrel design is flawed – EXCEPT ONE -> http://www.aquabarrel.com – it’s over flow port is designed for 4inch landscape pipe to wisk away the overflow – No other rain barrel that I could find has such a large opening. Take a look at the downspout diverter – we live in the north and we have to take our rain barrel off-line b/c of the freeze issue.

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  15. One thing you have to consider with rains barrels is drainage. The idea of your down spout is to channel the water well away from your home. You need to make sure that you have a good enough grade that when this thing over flows it is channeled away from your home. It is also a good idea to have some kind of over flow tube the carries the overflow three or more feet from your foundation.

    I know this first hand, I had a rain barrel the had a massive over flow that went right in my basement, big big mess!

    _____________________________________________
    Check out my veggie garden blog:
    http://veggiegardenblog.blogspot.com/

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  16. It is great looking, but not for that price right now; perhaps next year. We don’t get any rain here anyhow.

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  17. Diana on

    ah, but my FedEx guy delivers my stuff to the woman one street over. And she’s been known to hang onto it.

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  18. As one who has an ugly grey rain barrel partially hidden in the fitzers, I’m impressed. My neighbors didn’t say anything but “what’s that thing for?” (which is in itself a good opening to rain water saving).

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  19. I really need to invest in a rainwater collecting system…although it rains all winter here, we are as dry as a bone in summer. I wonder if there is a system with enough capacity to help out during the dry season?

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  20. Hanna on

    MOTM – It is a bit high, but honest. Just a week or two ago I saw an ugly blue barrel one that was $100 more.

    bfmomma – Where did you find yours? If you get a chance, let us know. I think anyone here would be happy with ugly and cheap. :)

    kate the kid – My hubby use to work for UPS and he says the same thing. But at least when the UPS can’t find something, they give you your money back.

    Steph – It is round all the way. Would be nice if they had a flat sided one as well for tight spots.

    Matt – DIY is awesome! Do you ahve directions on how to convert a barrel into a rain barrel?

    Nancy – Hey, thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you more in the future!

    ilex – There is an overflow opening on the back. I think for where I am, this is a good size, since it rains about every 2 weeks, at least. But in drier areas, yes you would need a bigger one.

    Rebecca – I know that, but the USPS has no customer service in place to compensate for that. Ever try to complain to the USPS? Good luck with that. They don’t need to take care of customers because customers have no where else to go.

    Anthony – Thanks for the suggestion. I am going to get my hubby on that right now!

    Sue & jim – Jesus chist people. Could you back off on the links drops?

    Janice – That is a pretty cool barrel

    Sue – Thanks!

    Dan – I am lucky in that our driveway is graded into a storm drain, so when there is overflow, it goes to the drain. Thanks for the tip though!

    jayintenn – It can, but it has an overflow spount and runs down the driveway as it would have if it had just continues down the downspout.

    Jody – Thanks for the tip.

    Charlotte – I do not know the manufacturer, but the company that sent me this may ship to the UK.

    Eric – That is where rainbarrels are best. It can help you store the extra rain, when you get the rain.

    Diana – Not cool for FedEx man or the lady!

    Verde – At least he did not ask when the moonshine was coming. 😉

    Jean Ann – I am sure there is, but I do not know what it is.

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    Rebecca Reply:

    You are absolutely correct, I had to have my mail forwarded to my local post office becausee my mailbox was broken. Went in a few days later to collect my mail and he tried to give me a huge stack of mail that wasnt even mine. I had even handed him my ID and he took it back there with him…really no good excuse…all he said was that someone put it in the wrong place and here’s the clencher…he’s the friggin postmaster at that office ! LOL

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  21. I live in Milwaukee, I heard about MMSD’s deals on rain barrels after I made my own. I’m pretty sure they are subsidizing these barrels though. Milwaukee has combined storm water and sewer, so when it rains a lot (like recently) they are forced to dump untreated sewage into local rivers and ultimately Lake Michigan. So the more water collected in rain barrels and not going into the storm sewer the better it is for them.

    As for my DIY rain barrel, here’s what I did:
    I found some of those ugly blue plastic 55 gallon barrels for sale on craigslist for $10 each. I got two, one became a rain barrel and one a compost barrel. The rain barrel was pretty easy to make, I bought a flexible downspout and two threaded spigots from home depot. Drill a hole the size to fit the spigot towards the bottom of the barrel and screw it in (I sealed the threads with hot glue but caulk would probably work better). Install the other spigot up higher for the overflow valve. I used a saws-all to make a larger hole in the top of the barrel for the flexible downspout to enter. I also got some burlap and wrapped the barrel a few times (hot glued in place) to cover up the ugly blueness of it and it actually looks somewhat attractive now.

    I have found that my overflow valve is probably too small and can’t let water out fast enough to keep up if it’s raining hard, so I will probably be replacing that with a larger overflow mechanism when I have the time. I’ve thought of feeding the overflow into a drip irrigation system, but I’m not sure if it’s all that great to be adding water to my plants when it’s already raining. I’d have to make a drip irrigation system before I can do that anyway.

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  22. JCD on

    Your rain barrel set up sounds just about like mine Matt.
    I have myself a pretty good supplier of the ugly blue (and white, and black) barrels now and I sell them on Craig’s list in the Indianapolis area for a little extra coin on the weekends. I never knew until recently that there was such high demand for them.

    I find the worst problem is the overflow, we get so much rain here I had to go with a 5″ flexible pipe for it on the 20′ foot gutter on the south side of the house. The sheer volume of water coming into those barrels during a good storm is a sight to behold.

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  23. Hanna on

    bfmomma – Thanks for the info!

    Matt – Thanks for he directions!

    John – Gardening must be very hard in Vegas.

    JCD – That’s a cool way to make some extra cash.

    Jason Rankin – I think I asked people to stop peddling their crap on this post. That company was already link dropped once and now you have pissed me off.

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  24. There’s a reason for the ugly blue barrel. anyone here of West Nile Virus? Misquitto conrol is very important. popping misquitto killer in the water defeats the purpose of a self sufficient water management system. The Ugly blue barrels cut down on the amount of sun light that enters the barrel. therefore reducing algea buildup and misquitto infestation. a closed, screened system will help also.
    White barrels allow to much sun light in. black barrels get to hot. Blue has been found to be the best color.

    yes, they are ugly. I built a simple wood screen around my barrels. with aging they look pretty good.

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