Rain Chain DIY | Inexpensive Elegance

Rain Chains – Inexpensive Elegance

rhoto by Tom Spencer in Soul of the GardenSirened out of sleep at 1:30 a.m. one recent Monday morning, I went searching for the source of the ruckus taking place in my home. What I found was a waterfall cascading on either side of the door dropping unceremoniously from the roof. Both water shoots were totally missing the potted plants. What a waste of clean rain water, I thought. The plants had all been watered earlier that afternoon and now gallons of free water were flowing down the pavers to the sidewalk. 


Having lived in Brasil, I witnessed how the locals harnessed that glorious water canopy from the heavens. The winters there simply mean it’s the rainy season and immeasurable amounts of water falling uninterrupted by winds causing unimaginable flooding and damage to the firmament. If you want your house to remain where you put it, you redirect the water.  In Brasil, you don’t collect water for any reason because standing water is a breeding ground for mosquito carrying dengue and given the recent mosquito infestation in the area, Arizonans should give thought to that if considering collecting rain in a barrel for your garden.700 rain chain from Lid Architects

Selecting & hanging your rain chain

First of two suggestions is to redirect the rain’s fall by use of decorative rain chains. Rain chains can be as decorative as you choose because they are functional in any fashion. 

  • Attach them to the roof where – either by design or your experience with rainfall from your roof – the most water gathers before dropping. 
  • At that location, hang the chain so that the other end of it either touches the area where you want the water to land or lies within it, for example, to a rain barrel, a fish pond, or to bring to life the dry riverbed within your landscaping.

Secondly, if there is no “water feature” to which you could add your rain runoff, consider a rock trough around the perimeter of your home.

Clever rerouting with drip lines

Clever rerouting from what is referred to as the drip line, can lead the rain to a pebble drain and away from your home preventing its degradation or land erosion. This perimeter trough, ideally, should be placed around your home where the water naturally falls from your roof. 

FrenchDrainThese troughs must be designed for functionality not simply to appeal to aesthetics. An engineer might fix a rainwater problem one way and a landscape gardener would do it another way.  Enlist the aid of someone who is both. Engineering needs to be applied as it is necessary to determine the topography of your property to understand its high points and grade changes. Swales (shallow tracts of land) must be incorporated to ensure conveyance of surface drainage towards a city right-of-way and not to encroach upon your neighbors’ property and investment.Swales by Drainage Services - Edmunton


 Consider the amount of water you’re dealing with, or defeat your efforts .

Whatever your approach is to resolve the storm rain drainage, consider the volume of water you will be dealing with. If the downpouring of rain is somewhat immense, you should consider a more robust chain rather than a slight and decorative one. Similarly for the pebble drains, make it wide enough to contain the water dropping into it. Too narrow a passageway and the water will just splash out and into your lawn, defeating the purpose of your efforts.

Not all rain chains have to be chains.

custom fabrication by RainChains.com

custom fabrication by RainChains.com

Some rain chains are not chains at all but a mechanism that will move the rain water beautifully from your roof to a place of your choosing. Some rain chains harness water to utilize it in the creation of a moving art form.

You really can do-it-yourself, really.

Depending on your motivation, artistic ability, time constraints, and budget, the  downspout by Lushomepossibilities could be far reaching. For green do-it-yourselfers, create your own rain chains with recycled materials and capture rainwater for your eco or organic gardens. Keep it clean by keeping in mind that you won’t want to use materials that will rust (unsightly and, although a little rust won’t hurt, too much of it can in turn cause a lack of manganese in the plants) and you don’t want to use water from eaves troughs to fill your pool or Koi pond (messy).


Rain chain DIY designs and resources.  To broaden your scope of DIY designs and their difficulty level, visit My HomeMyStyle.com.  To search the vaults for unique, functional, hand-crafted rain chains, Rainchains.com strives to have as low an impact as possible on the environment and guarantee them for safety. They sell chains lengths by the foot so you can order just what you need. They also advertise their products as the highest quality and the thickest copper, brass, aluminum, iron materials and guarantee all cup styles are designed for the best waterflow. It’s worth a minute or two to visit their website if only to see the possibilities and which might be a good fit for your home.

Water drainage is an important and necessary component in the design of any structure and crucial to avoid destruction of both land and property. The Principles of Exterior Drainage (structural calculations, signed and sealed by structural design professionals) is a basic feature that your architect and builder would have incorporated in your home’s design. After being approved by the Building Inspectors we tend to believe that our house is “done.” Keep in mind however, that their responsibility is basic. Once you are living in the house you may notice events that warrant attention, such rain storm drainage. You may consider it at that time as insufficient, lacking in some way, just as I did early Monday morning.

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