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Make a rain chain to utilize your rainwater and reduce stormwater runoff!

When rain falls on grass or garden areas, much of the water is soaked into the ground. When rainwater is directed to impervious surfaces (hard surfaces that don’t allow water to soak through, like cement or asphalt) it moves downhill toward storm drains. As stormwater moves towards storm drains, it picks up pollutants, such as litter, fertilizers, engine oil, grease, and more.

Storm drains carry the water and pollutants directly to lakes and rivers without any treatment or filtration system. Because the city is covered with impervious surfaces, heavy rainfalls cause stormwater to flow toward storm drains, which carries pollution and causes flooding, streambank erosion, and habitat destruction. Learn more about stormwater here.

Redirecting stormwater that falls on your roof to flow into your garden rather than the runoff into the street can help reduce the quantity of water that flows into the storm drains. Although this doesn’t remove the pollution in the street, it does help slow the flow of stormwater, reducing the chances of flooding, erosion, and habitat destruction. It also gives us more time to pick up litter and reduce potential pollution in storm drains.

There are many ways to divert rainwater from the storm drain system:

  • Rain barrels
  • Rain gardens
  • Rain chains
  • Permeable pavement
  • Green roof

Omaha Stormwater has more information about these techniques and how to add them to your home.

One easy way to divert rainwater from the storm drain system is to create a rain chain.

Gutters typically direct water that lands on buildings into streets and then into storm drains. Rain chains replace downspouts to direct water to gardens or rain barrels. And as an added bonus, they are an attractive water feature for your home!

  • Bottle caps, tin cans, or other found objects
  • Wire or chain
  • Tools to wrap and cut wire/chain
  • Scrap metal bent into a "U" shape

Create your rain chain

Collect bottle caps, tin cans, plastic bottles, or really anything you want to string onto a chain. Rain chains can be made of anything that will withstand being outdoors. 

Find a place for your rain chain. Pick a spot on your roof where water will be diverted from your gutter to your yard or garden. 

  1. Use wire to connect the upcycled items into a long chain. Most rain chains are 8-10 feet long, but you can make it longer to fit your location.
  2. Make sure to create a loop at the top of your rain chain in order to install it.

To make the rain chains you see below, we used crafting wire to connect glass bottles and the tops from applesauce pouches.

Check out this step-by-step instructional video on how to make a rain chain out of spoons!

Install your rain chain 

You can purchase a V or U-shaped hook, or you can make one from an old metal hanger or other items you have at home. 

  1. Remove the downspout to your gutter.
  2. Insert the top loop of your rain chain into the hole where you removed your downspout. 
  3. Put the U-shaped metal piece on top of the gutter. Hook your rain chain onto the metal piece, securing your rain chain in place. 
  4. Use the loop at the bottom of your rain chain to secure the rain chain to the ground. You can use a metal stake or rope to secure the rain chain at the bottom, depending on where you want your water to go. You might even consider having your rain chain lead to a rain barrel!

Check out this step-by-step instruction guide for installing your rain chain.

We would love to see where this lesson led you! Share your photos and videos with us by tagging #stewardshipschool and #keepomahabeautiful.

Thank you to our Trees for Omaha program sponsors



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