May 25, 2020

Keeping It Clean

Rain barrels

Janine Pineo Photo | A few pointers to keep algae at a minimum in rain barrels

How do you keep algae from building up in your rain barrels?

There are a few tricks to keep the water pristine.

  • Set up the barrel in a mostly shady area. Sunlight promotes algae growth.
  • If shade isn’t possible where your barrels are, then make sure the barrels are a dark color to stop the sun from shining into the water.
  • Use a debris screen to filter out bits and pieces of leaves and twigs, which can help to muck up the water.
  • A debris screen also keeps mosquitoes from breeding in your barrels.
  • Some recommend adding 2 ounces of bleach to the barrel before it fills completely and making sure to empty out the barrel every week. (On the surface, that sounds fine, but barrels are meant to store water for use during dry spells so if you empty out the water every few days and no more rain comes along, you’ve defeated the purpose. We’re just saying.)
  • Consider some barley ball action. Barley is used to keep algae from ponds, which are like giant rain barrels, so it has the potential to work in an actual barrel.

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