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Dealing with drought
Rain barrels subject of upcoming workshops
Rain Barrel Class
Jim O'Kelly works on a rain barrel during a class last year. - photo by Submitted
For more information or to reserve a spot at one of the workshops, contact Keep Forsyth County Beautiful at (770) 205-4573 or
Green may be the color of spring, but some landscaping likely will need extra attention during the ongoing drought.

Keep Forsyth County Beautiful can help though.

The environmentally-focused agency will provide residents with opportunities to build their own rain barrel, a popular device used to capture and conserve rain water, beginning Monday.

Water captured in the barrels can be used to water plants and landscaping.

“Rain barrels are a great way to keep your landscape looking good when outdoor water restrictions are in place,” said Tammy Wright, director of the organization. “Even during times of drought, just a small amount of rain will fill up a barrel.”

Wright explained that if a roof has an area of 1,000 square feet, just one inch of rainfall can generate up to 600 gallons of rooftop runoff.

Five rain barrel workshops will be held between Monday and June, Wright said. Each workshop lasts about an hour, depending on the number of participants, and is limited to 20 people.

“Jim and Sharon O’Kelley lead all the classes,” Wright said. “They are master gardeners who designed their own rain barrel and have modified their design over the years to come up with a great barrel that’s pretty easy to put together.”

During a workshop, which costs $45, each participant is provided a plastic food-grade barrel and all supplies needed convert the barrel into proper a rain catcher.  

Wright said in addition to constructing the rain barrels, which if purchased from a retail vendor can cost as much as $200, attendees will receive lessons from the O’Kelleys on how to properly use the barrel and keep contaminants and pests like algae and mosquitos at bay.

Workshops are scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday and March 31, April 23 and May 19; and from 9 to 10:30 a.m. June 6 at the Central Park
Recreation Center, 2300 Keith Bridge Road (Hwy. 306).

Wright noted that additional workshops could be scheduled throughout the summer.

“We’ll probably continue with them all summer, it just depends on our participation,” she said.

E-mail Crystal Ledford at