springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I like the idea of collecting rain water to use for the flower beds. But my question is how does it really work. I mean if it pours all spring, my barrel is only going to hold 50 gallons or whatever. Suppose I have 4 or 5 barrels. Well I have to find a place to put them, set up and such. They can be unsightly and take up space. Don't they warm up and grow algae and stink? You have to keep the skeeters out. But the real question is, all that for what? A couple hundred gallons of water?! If it goes most of July or August or part of Sept w no rain, the water in your barrel is going to run out in a real fast hurry. Then what?

I think draining the gray water out of your clothes washer and your showers would be a steady supply of water all summer. But I am unsure how to go about doing that, and not even sure if it's legal to do that? Would the soaps, harm the plants or animals, birds ect?

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