A rain barrel is a great way to make your property more river friendly. Collecting roof runoff in a rain barrel reduces the amount of water that flows from your property, which protects nearby streams and rivers from water pollution. It’s also a great way to conserve water and save money on your utility bill.

In Virginia, the freeze-thaw cycle can damage or destroy rain barrels, so it is recommended that you “winterize,” or decommission your barrel during the winter season. Here are 3 steps to winterize your rain barrel:

  1. Drain all water from the barrel. Begin by using the spigot to release as much water as you can, then tip or invert the barrel to remove the rest. 
  2. Disconnect the hose and downspout diverter. Cover both holes with the caps that were included in your rain barrel kit.
  3. Store the barrel and components in a sheltered area. Keeping the barrel and connection kit in a basement, garage or shed will help extend the life of your barrel. If left outside, cover the barrel with a tarp and turn it upside-down to prevent water accumulation.

Don’t forget the most important step: set up your barrel after the last frost in the spring, so it can continue to make your property more river friendly. 

Adam Lynch
River Steward, City of Fredericksburg and Stafford County


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