Dealing with Algae Growth in a Rain Barrel (District Garden)
Prevent Algae in Rain Barrels:
Sometimes we get questions about how to prevent algae in rain barrels. While algae growth in rain barrels prevents only an aesthetic problem to some, here are some tried and true methods for preventing algae growth in a rain barrel.
In our experience installing and repairing rain barrels for customers all over the Mid-Atlantic, we have found methods that work to control algae growth in rain barrels. They’re all pretty simple, and they all work. Depending on your situation, some or all might be appropriate. Or, as with the fifth option, none.
Use and/or Drain The Barrel Regularly
This is the easiest method. Regular use and/or draining of the barrel will snuff out any possible algae growth. So, use your barrel regularly. If you’re going to be gone for an extended period, then drain the barrel!
The EPA gives guidance on how to use bleach to disinfect drinking water.Thus, we use this as a basis for how much bleach should be acceptable in a rain barrel. The EPA states, “Add 1⁄8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.”Bleach will keep the algea at bay.
Paint The Barrel / Cover With Plants
Another alternative is to paint the barrel a dark color, or a few layers of a light color. Keeping the sun out of the barrel will stifle the algae growth. Or, grow some plants up or down the barrel to cover it
Keep Out of the Sun
While not practical, this method is simple enough. The shadier the location of your rain barrel the less algae growth that will occur.
Deal With It / Do Nothing
There’s nothing wrong with a little algae in the barrel. If it can support algae growth, then at least you know the water doesn’t kill plant life. That’s typically important for a rain barrel’s contents 🙂 So, you can always just deal with it and clean it at the end of the season.
Article Keywords: Algae, Rain Barrel, Washington DC, Garden, Maryland, Virginia