Rain barrel – Winter maintenance

Q: My rain barrel is full, thanks to the winter rains. I’m concerned that freezing temperatures will turn the water to ice and damage the barrel. What should I mix in to make sure this does not happen? Do I drain the barrel?

A: Last year’s drought has made all of us nervous about wasting collected water. Even so, draining your barrel may be the best solution. I am positive it will rain this spring, before you need much landscape water. Practically speaking, there is no antifreeze chemical you can mix with the water that would not also harm plants. Your worries are probably moot anyway. It would have to stay well below freezing for several days in order for a rain barrel to freeze. Any hours that are above freezing will melt any water that freezes overnight.

I currently have a full rain barrel and a full 275 gallon water tank. I won’t worry until we have a week of temperatures constantly below 25 degrees, at which time I’ll drain them.

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