Parts One and Two of Three of the Rain Barrel Project


While waiting for the roofers to repair my plumbing flanges, which will spawn my bathroom ceiling and wall repair, I got antsy and started my drainage fix. I call it the rain barrel project. Ultimately, I’ll have a Kentucky whiskey barrel turned rain barrel, but for now it’s part concrete, part flower bed.

The Problem
The problem was a pesky down spout. It empties at the front corner of my garage. More accurately, after fifteen years of rain, it drilled a hole clear to the base of the foundation. I needed to fill the hole and keep the water out. My solution is a little concrete, some flowers, and eventually the rain barrel. Not only do I solve the foundation problem, I get free water for the new flowers.

The problem patch. Note the down spout on the left.
The problem patch. Note the down spout on the left.

Part One: Concrete
The area in question is a 4′ x 2.5′ patch of earth encased by the garage brick, driveway, and L-shaped front walk. Not much to work with and just enough to allow the water to cause a problem. I dug up the half closest to the house and repacked the dirt with an 8″ x 8″ tamper. The solid Alabama red clay is a very tough water barrier. Once firmly packed up to the bottom of the four-inch-thick walk, I poured in 160 pounds of Quikrete. Here are the results (Those aren’t worms, by the way. They’re immature pine cones):

After pouring concrete.
After pouring concrete.

Part Two: The Flower Bed
I dug the remaining dirt down to fifteen inches being careful to leave that good solid clay on all sides. Then it was off to Lowe’s for some top soil, potting soil and a little color. Here’s a little tip. Holes are always bigger than they look, but math doesn’t lie. Measure the hole and calculate the volume so you don’t come home with too little soil. At 2.5 ft.2, my hole needed just over 5 cubic feet of soil. Always buy a little extra to fill in as it settles.

I used a 3:2 ratio of top soil to potting soil. Since both are sold in 1 cubic foot bags, it was easy to decide how many bags to buy because I did the math before going to the store. I only wish I had remembered to take my wallet with me. I had to park the carts and zip home. For some reason, they won’t let you take it all home on a promise to return with the money.

With a few terracotta pots as place holders for the rain barrel, I’m 2/3 of the way to completion. I poked in some verbena, dahlia, columbine (red and purple), marigolds, petunias, and a few surprises for later. Here are the results so far. I didn’t get done in time to catch the sun for these pictures. Pardon my flash.

A long shot.
A long shot.

My place holder pots
My place holder pots
Oh, pretty colors
Oh, pretty colors

I moved a couple of solar lights into the mix. They were previously in a spot that didn’t really get enough sun to power them. Next month, I’ll order the rain barrel and get some bed-edging to keep the soil from washing away. Yep, should have thought of that when I went back to get my wallet.

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4 Comments

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  1. Oooh! Very cool. Hope I can keep up with the progress. Where’s your victory garden?

  2. A job well done!:)Looks pretty and cheerful with the flowers.

  3. Lazy Gardens May 1, 2009 — 10:59

    Did the builders run the downspout between two garage doors?

    Another way to fix it, if you have the slope, is to make an underground drain that takes the water away from the house and dumps it downhill.

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