Most rain barrels are hideously ugly. They either look like giant plastic oil drums or huge pickle barrels and come in exciting colors like black or red, attempting to look like terracotta. I've always wanted to get one that looked a little more like a garden sculpture rather than a garden eyesore.
It's been years that I've been planning on buying one, but never really got around to doing it mostly because I've been deterred on the idea of rain barrels ever since learning that, with an asphalt roof, you really shouldn't use the water on food crops. The issue has a lot to do with the composite roof deteriorating and collecting in the water. I've seen this happen in our downspouts and drainage and it's really not something I want to put on my food.
Anyway, the other week I had a brilliant idea. Well, at least I thought so. Instead of using the roof run-off, I could use a rain barrel as a giant collection tank for my clean, drinkable shower warm-up water that I save. Water that I have no where to store if it's raining out and can't use immediately (which is far too often around here). Water that I could use not only on my flowering plants, but also on my edibles. So, I done got myself a rain barrel. But, not any average rain barrel - one that isn't as ugly as the standard kind.
It looks like a large clay urn from afar. Up close, you can tell it's plastic, but the cool thing is that it has a planter on top. If you leave the receptacle as is, it can double as a bird bath, but I drilled holes in it, layered it with cloth barrier and planted a cyclamin and two alpine strawberry plants. As you can see from the picture, it's not hooked up to the downspout, but it is right next to the deck and I have it placed where I can lean over the deck to dump the water without too much effort.
Of course, I can always hook it up to the downspout if I decide to use it for that purpose one of these days. Or, if we replace our roof with something that doesn't leach zinc or other petroleum products into the water.
However, the better looks and fancy planter action will cost your more. Mine is an Algreen 81001 Cascata 65-Gallon Rain Water Collection and Storage System that I got through Amazon*, but at least I got free shipping. I didn't think I'd enjoy having a rain barrel so much, but it's been incredibly satisfying so far saving all that water. And, the box it came in has been turned into a rather well-used castle.
Note for the FTC: I am an Amazon Affiliate, so clicking on the product link and buying something from Amazon may just result in a referral kick-back for me to buy more rain barrels :)