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Make Your Own Rain Barrel

Category Irrigation
Collecting and using rain water for your garden is good for the environment and can save you money. This is a guide about harvesting rain.


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June 17, 20170 found this helpful

White Rain Barrel

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By asking around at various businesses you may be able to find suitable plastic barrels to make your own rain barrels for little or no cost. This is a guide about rain barrels for practically free.


By 1 found this helpful
June 28, 2006

If you have a downspout on the side of your house or garage that directs water away from your house, you're potentially letting a big part of your water bill wash down the rain gutter. Just 1 inch of rain on a 1000 sq ft roof yields a whopping 62.3 gallons of water! While this water might not be fit for human consumption, reclaiming it for use on the yard and garden make good financial and environmental sense.

Materials Needed:

The total cost for this project is about $50 for materials (assuming you have the drill). This cost can be reduced considerably if you scour re-use centers or junkyards for used parts.


  1. Start by finding yourself a 55-gallon or larger plastic barrel. Try to locate a food-grade barrel or one that has never been used. There are several companies that use plastic barrels and sell them or give them away when they are finished. Check with recycling centers, re-use or industrial material exchange centers or try calling companies direct. There are several companies on the web that sell them (including online auctions), but you can usually find them cheaper locally. Select one without a cover. You're going to make your own.
  2. Once you have your barrel you need to fashion a cover for it. This is essential for keeping out mosquitoes, keeping wildlife safe and filtering out plant debris that washes off your roof when it rains. Make the cover by cutting a piece of window screen large enough to fit across the opening. Cut the screen so that it's at least 1 1/2 times bigger than the mouth of the barrel. Secure the screen to the top of the barrel with the bungee cords. Fit the cords tightly around the lip of the barrel so they hold the screen in place. If you want to, trim off any excess screen with a scissors. Caution: This cover is not designed to keep children out. Never let children play around the rain barrel unattended!
  3. For dispensing water, drill a hole near the bottom of the barrel with an electric drill. This is where you will attach the faucet spigot. Drill a small hole and use an Exacto knife to gradually increase the size in order to fit the faucet. Widen it just to the point where the threaded end of the faucet can be twisted into the hole. Tip: If your faucet is too low to fit a bucket underneath, attach a small piece of garden hose on the end to dispense water more easily.
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  5. To seal the area with O-rings, place one on the outside, insert the spigot and place the other one on the inside. Use the electrical nut to secure the O-ring use for the interior. If desired, apply silicon caulking around the area to ensure a tight seal.
  6. Place the concrete blocks side by side and use them to elevate the rain barrel off the ground. Or if you prefer, place the barrel on top of two circular stepping stones. This will not give you as great of water pressure, but it will make the barrel more inconspicuous.
  7. Adjust your downspout to direct water into your rain barrel. If cutting it is not possible or it is hard to work with, purchase a plastic downspout instead.
  8. If you want to try some variations on this design, consider adding a second hole near the top of the barrel for attaching an overflow hose (like the barrel pictured below). You can also add a second hole to the bottom and use a hose to attach a second barrel if you find you need to expand your collection system.

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February 6, 20120 found this helpful

You absolutely must install overflow capability to any home-made rain barrel. The purpose of your downspouts are to direct water away from your home exterior and away from your home foundation. If you install a rain barrel on a downspout that doesn't have overflow capability, if the barrel fills up completely the water is going to have to flow out of that barrel from the lid (top).

When that happens the water is no longer being directed away from your home and instead will settle along the side of your house which can cause you to have foundation issues in the future. The overflow should be large enough to handle large rain events and should have a hose attached to it to direct water away. Rain barrels are a wonderful way to manage storm water, help to protect the environment and can save you money.

However, you need to make sure you're installing the barrel properly and that your barrel has these necessary safety features. Other than that I found the article to be informative. An overflow shouldn't just be considered a variation. It is a necessity for the type of barrel you described constructing.

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By 5 found this helpful
July 6, 2010

With all the talk of saving water, I have not seen a suggestion to save rain water. Why let it run into the street? You can buy special rain water savers but why not make your own. Direct your drain spout into a large garbage bin and siphon the water out with a hose to where ever you want to water.

By Ann

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July 6, 20100 found this helpful

I built my rain barrel system (three barrels daisy chained together) back in 2002 and it has worked flawlessly! I do drain them in the winter to avoid freezing the spigot (I live in West Michigan where it does get cold in the winter). I have window screen as a removable filter to keep the trash out as well as keeping out mosquitoes. There is a helpful set of instructions on the web site of the Michigan Division of the Izaak Walton League (national conservation group). Just visit and look on the left side for printable documents.

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July 6, 20100 found this helpful


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This is the rain barrel we installed last summer. We live in the southwest high desert where it is arid, but we receive summer monsoon rains.



March 7, 20120 found this helpful

Here is a video that shows you to make you own rain barrel system for harvesting rain water.

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August 23, 20130 found this helpful

Wow, the man from Canada, with his video, is very creative! Using old batteries, recycling old LED screens from broken yard lamps, & really loved how he even charges his two cell phones on this whole system! I thoroughly enjoyed his video!

Wondering about the contents that were previously in the black barrels, one says soap as you said, so should be safe & not even have to be washed out as soap water is good for plants & lawn ... but if others had chemicals in them, wouldn't you have to really wash them out very, very well? I have heard to use food grade (or even soap in this case) barrels. Were they just free from the Maple Auto Corp?

Wondering about the battery he is going to put under your deck steps ... will he have to build a shelter of some sort over the battery to protect it from rain & weather, or perhaps insert backings on the steps?

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 1 found this helpful
June 17, 2009

Looking for creative ways to harvest rain. Rain barrels used to be a dime a dozen, but now that environmentalism is all the rage, it has driven the price way up on previously discarded industrial barrels. I'm looking for truly innovative ideas, not just using ready made products like trash cans.

By yoshhash from Windsor, ON

Answer Was this helpful? 1
June 19, 20090 found this helpful

I buried my Large cheap Trashcans in the ground ( I tied 3 of them together with plumbing so that all 3 are connected) and added a submersible pump, with a hose attached to it. When I need water I plug in the pump and water away. You will have to innovative about the dangers of buried trashcans, you can also use a trash can and cover or decorate it using bricks, landscape timbers, or whatever, of course you will fill this with rainwater from the roof.

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June 28, 20090 found this helpful

Please, please, please cover your cans, after the rain! This will not only prevent debris from clogging your pipes and evaporation losses. Still water is a great place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. No still water please! Don't make your back yard a haven for mosquitoes.

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April 12, 20110 found this helpful

Any trash can ideas for small pond?

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