As the cooler weather invites us outdoors, it is a perfect time to take stock of what’s happening with the things that flow in your corner of the world. Chances are, if you own a home in the Phillippi Creek watershed, it was built when the idea was to get rain off of the land as quickly as possible. This means many of our homes have design features, like downspouts, that purposefully direct rainwater onto driveways or sidewalks that lead to stormwater drains.

downspoutUnfortunately, the “Quick, get the water outta here!” design enables more rain to pick up pollutants on its way out. It doesn’t allow for water to soak into the soil, be taken up or filtered by plants, or sit long enough to evaporate off.

As a result, we end up with more pollution-carrying water in our creeks and bays. These large pulses of freshwater can also disrupt the freshwater/saltwater balance of our creek ecosystems. Plus, much of the water coming off of driveways and roads, especially in the summer, can be really warm, introducing what’s known as thermal pollution.

However, the great news here is that there are SIMPLE, INEXPENSIVE ways to update the old design and create opportunities for water filtration, storage, and pollution reduction.

Downspout Solutions 

1. Extenders

2. Rain Barrels

3. Landscape Reroutes

4. Downspout Planter Boxes

1. Downspout Extenders: The Quick, Easy Fix

Photo Credit: Home Depot

  • Best for: the Busy Bee on a Budget
  • Average cost: under $10, home delivery available
  • Available at: local hardware stores and online retailers
  • Time needed to install: 10 minutes or less

2. Rain Barrel Connection

Rain barrelrain barrel

Photo Credits: UF/IFAS Extension Program (left) and Mick Telkamp HGTV (right)

  • Best for: the DIY Dabbler or Creative Crafter
  • Average cost: $39 per barrel (UF/IFAS Extension discount) plus any additional adapters or supplies ($15 – $50)
  • Available: barrels for pick up at Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension Office, additional supplies at local hardware stores and online retailers
  • Time needed to install: a few hours

3. Landscape Reroutes & Drainage Canals

landscaped downspouts

Photo Credits: (left) and Wall’s Landscape (right)

  • Best for: the DIY Dabbler or Creative Crafter
  • Average cost: $50 – $100, varies by material type  
  • Available at: local hardware stores and online retailers
  • Time needed to install: a few hours 

4. Downspout Planter Box

planter box diagramplanter box

Photo Credits: Geosyntec (left) and Philadelphia Water Department (right)

  • Best for: the Skilled Sally, Handyman Hank, or a hired professional
  • Average cost: $235 – $285
  • Available at: Not available locally as a pre-made product, but many planters and rain barrels can be retrofitted, or you can build your own downspout planter box.
  • Time needed to install: several hours – best to allocate a weekend

Let Your Creativity Shine! 

There is no wrong way to go when it comes to adding your own personal touches to this project. You can dress up your extender with decorative end pieces or go entirely original on the whole thing!

Click on the gallery below for examples