Chains is good

Homemade rain chain

In my previous garden, I hung a chain as a downspout at one corner of the old garage I had reno’d into an open-air studio . You can just make out the boat-shaped container at its base which collected rain water and dispersed the water into a garden bed.

I love a good thunderstorm. And now that our dog is almost completely deaf, we can enjoy the cracks and booms without having to peel him off the ceiling. But during our last storm, as the rain continued to crash down with the strength of a firehose at full spray, the romance fizzled when my eye caught the gushing downspout and flattened flowers.

Conventional downspouts are fine; don’t get me wrong. But that storm reminded me that there’s another way to channel rain from roof to ground – hanging chain. What’s nice about using chain instead of metal or plastic tubing is that you instantly transform your guttering into a pretty cool water feature. A traditional roof-to-ground drainage solution in Japan, now chains are available here in Canada at garden centres, outdoor decor stores and online from companies specializing in rain chains such as the aptly named Rain Chains Canada, located in Victoria, B.C.

I made my own rain chain (shown at left) for the outdoor studio I had in my previous garden. I used conventional metal chain bought at my local Home Depot. I measured the distance from the gutter to the ground and then added a few feet. Then I went to the store, chose a chain I liked in colour and gauge, and measured off what I needed directly from the spool so I wouldn’t have any waste. I had my contractor punch a hole in the gutter, nail one end of the chain to the roof and then thread the chain through the hole. I just pooled the other end of the chain in the bottom of a sculptural container. Adding a container at the bottom stops the falling water from splattering the ground and creating a mess as well as adding to the overall design.

If you’re interested in making your own, check out Susanna Diegel’s excellent Pinterest board Rain Chains to get your creative juices (and DIY mojo) flowing. And Google images for rain chains. You’ll find lots of examples of rain chains with small bucket-shaped ornaments. They slow the water and add to the look.

Once you’re hooked on chain, you’ll find it can be a handy item in the garden and not just for swinging chandeliers from a big maple tree. (That’s another story.) One idea I found intriguing is using chain as an alternative trellis for climbing plants. Fellow blogger Jody shows an elegant version of this idea on her blog CreateSomething.

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