As we prepare our gardens for the winter it is important that we don’t forget about our rain barrels. Taking steps to winterize your rain barrel will help prolong the life and keep it in good condition. Be sure to follow these steps before temperatures start consistently reaching below freezing. If you live in a warmer region where temperatures are not often below 35 degrees, it is not necessary to winterize your rain barrel. Without preparations, cold weather could freeze, crack, or expand the barrel. 1. Disconnect the rain barrel from the gutter downspout 2. Empty barrel of all water. Make sure to drain the water from attached hoses as well. This will avoid any left over water from freezing and cracking the barrel. 3. Clean the inside of the barrel. Over time the use of a rain barrel can collect deposits or residue that need to be cleaned in order to keep the barrel in its best condition. We recommend washing with soapy water and rinsing with vinegar and water. 4. Store your rain barrel in a dry place like a shed or garage. If you don’t have room, turn the barrel upside down and cover it with a tarp so that is does not collect any water or acquire weather damage. 5. During the winter, you should reconnect the gutter downspout. Make sure this is positioned away from the house to avoid any flooding around the foundation. These five steps should help preserve your barrel so that it lasts longer and keeps in good condition. Don’t let winter creep up on you without taking measures to prepare your outdoor space!