Rain chains have been a mainstay in Japanese culture for centuries, serving to collect rainwater for practical use. They make sense in the rainy Northwest for a number of reasons. Rain chains add personalized décor to the exterior of a house and garden, as well as the soothing sound of trickling water. They’re also practical; slowing down the water’s rush averts soil erosion and prevents gushing runoff from overwhelming the municipal storm system.

Locate

Choose a location where you’ll be able to see and appreciate the rain chain, and make sure the water drains away from the house and foundation. Consider having a receptacle for the drained water, such as a rain barrel, a trail of river rocks that lead to a garden, or a container of some sort, which could produce a gurgling fountain effect.

Install

Downspouts funnel rain water off the roof and away from the foundation into a proper drainage source, so replacing a downspout with a rain chain is an option. Or, drill a hole in the gutter to install a downspout outlet in the preferred spot, so the water can flow from the gutter down the links in the chain. To hang the chain from the gutter, pop in a bracket—either a strip of metal bent into a V-shape, or buy a gutter clip to do the job.

Design

There are a range of styles of rain chains, which typically include a straightforward run of links, or a combination of links and decorative cups. You might make it yourself, using plumber’s chain or “S” hooks and cups of your fancy, or purchase a kit. To ensure durability from the constant exposure to water, opt for metal, such as aluminum, brass, or solid copper, keeping in mind that uncoated metal will gain a patina over time

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1859 Magazine

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