By: Areni Kelleppan, Green Calgary

The benefits of rain barrels, composters

Calgarians are getting ready for spring, and that means gardening.

With a small investment and a little hard work, we can make our homes more appealing and welcoming. A tree here, a shrub there and a few plants sprinkled throughout will not only make your neighbours smile, you will, too.

And whether you skillfully harvest home-grown veggies or are just starting out with a few perennials, nothing makes your plants happier than un-chlorinated rainwater and nutrient rich compost. 

Rain barrels are not only low maintenance and easy to use; water collected in rain barrels has a natural temperature that won’t shock plants and is chlorine-free. Using a rain barrel means less water needs to treated, cutting down on water waste and reducing demand on water-treatment facilities, which in the end saves us all money. And, since one-third of the average Calgarian’s water bill is spent on gardens and lawns, using rain barrels just makes good sense.

Composting can help not only reduce up to 60 per cent of the garbage from our homes going into the landfill (where they are crushed and can’t decompose), but it’s also considered “gold” to gardeners.  Why? Because using compost in your yard helps soil retain water, discourages weeds and adds essential microorganisms. The result is a healthier, greener garden and yard with a reduced need for toxic fertilizers and pesticides, which just makes “green” sense.

So how can homeowners get on the green bandwagon?

Contact us. Green Calgary is an urban environmental charity that’s been running rain barrel and composter sales each spring for more than 15 years. Grow Calgary not only sells those famous blue and white barrels and black composters, but it also educates and supports homeowners.

Not sure how to set up a rain barrel or how to use one? Not sure which one is right for your home? Still figuring out how to make a composter work for your backyard? Grow Calgary experts are on hand at each sale to find the right product for you; provide installation and maintenance support; and make sure you leave knowing how to get started and to succeed. The organization also has a great little EcoStore and Help Desk to provide trouble shooting support and resources.

Join the one in three Calgarians making small changes for a big impact in their own backyards. To pre-order your rain barrel and composter for pick up at a spring sale near you, check out You can also show up at a sale and buy them onsite. But be warned, they sell out fast.

Areni Kelleppan is executive director at Green Calgary – since 1978, the leading urban environmental charity empowering Calgarians to green the way they live, work, and play.