There's a lot wrong with this picture: I recently pulled out some spring annuals and the summer flowers are just starting to germinate, so this area isn't as floriferous as I would like it to be; you can see where we desperately need new paint on the side of our house; and our rubbish bins are on full display.
However there is one thing perfectly right with this picture, and that's the new rain barrel stand Tom made for me this past weekend.
My folks gave me this 55-gallon rain barrel several years ago, and I love it. But unlike my other large barrel, the top doesn't come off (they've changed safety laws on rain barrels). That means the only way to access the water is from the spout at the bottom. We have had this barrel on the ground, so the gravity feed wasn't great. I'd hook up my hose and try to move it around to soak certain areas, and if the hose was on any kind of rise at all, even the barest hint of a hill, the water would stop. So now that I've emptied out the barrel for the summer (I just soaked my compost pile with the dregs), I asked Tom to remedy the situation by making me this stand.
He made it out of redwood, which is naturally rot-resistant, and paid a great deal of attention to the design. A barrel of this size weighs around 400 pounds when it's full of water, which is not insignificant. Stability is also an issue; you don't want this thing to be spindly or rickety, which would be dangerous; hence the splayed legs. Here's where Sketch-Up comes in handy.
I'm so happy with this new set up. I can attach the hose easily, or I can just open the valve and fill a watering can. I love having rain water (no chemicals, which is better for soil life) and soon hope to have several 5000 gallon tanks attached to the gutter system on the house, which would hook in to our drip system. But until then, this makes a small dent in our water needs.
I still need to figure out a new downspout to run into this barrel, as it is set up for the old way. One rain pretty much fills it, so we have it so that it can be hooked back into the underground drainage system when the barrel is full. We'll shorten the green corregated plastic stuff so it easily be moved to and from the barrel, but we'll have to do some work on the bottom part of the downspout. Anyway, we have many months before the rains come, so we'll get to that in the autumn.