Photo by Melody

Building a Rain Barrel for Next to Nothing

By Susan Patterson (spattersonJuly 22, 2013

If you are tired of a high water bill it may be time to consider a rain barrel. Over 300 gallons of water can be collected off of a 500 square foot roof with just an inch of rain. That's a lot of water. If estimated rain fall amounts were actualized, you could potentially collect about a thousand gallons of water per year to use on your lawn, garden, houseplants or even to water livestock.

Gardening picture

You can purchase a ready-made rain barrel or make one yourself for very little cost. This is a project that does not require previous construction skills and can be completed in a couple of hours.

• One large plastic food grade barrel
• Drill
• 1-inch drill bit
• Screen
• Bungee cord
• 2-inch drill bit
• 2-inch pipe tap
• 2-inch water faucet
• Teflon tape
• Concrete blocks
• Tin snips
• Downspout elbow
• Hose


  1. Find a large plastic food grade barrel to use for your rain barrel. Search at local yard sales, newspaper ads, or look ask around. Make sure to scrub the barrel clean and make sure there are no holes or cracks where water could leak out.
  2. Use a drill to make several 1-inch holes in the top of the barrel. These holes will allow the water to flow into the barrel.
  3. Cover the top of the rain barrel with a piece of mesh screen. Attach the screen by wrapping a bungee cord around the neck of the barrel and tuck the screen under. This screen will prevent debris and insects from going inside the barrel.
  4. Drill a 2-inch diameter hole one one side of the barrel about 3-inch from the top. Screw a 2-inch pipe tap into the hole. This will be your overflow location. Later, a hose can be attached to direct the water away from the barrel if desired.
  5. Drill a second 2-inch diameter hole in the barrel. Make this hole in the front of the barrel, 3-inches from the bottom. This will be for the faucet.
  6. Wrap the threaded part of a 2-inch water faucet with Teflon tape. Screw the faucet into the bottom hole. The tape will help protect the area from leaks. A hose can also be attached to the faucet.
  7. Stack several concrete blocks on the ground under your downspout to form a level platform for the barrel. The higher the platform, the more water pressure your barrel will have.
  8. Place the barrel on top of the platform. Cut the downspout about 6-inches above the top of the rain barrel. Slide on a downspout gutter to the bottom of the downspout to direct water into the barrel.
  9. Your barrel is now ready for use. Attach a hose to the faucet and make sure it is turned off during rain, so no water drains from the barrel. When you are ready to use the water, simply turn the faucet on.


  About Susan Patterson  
Susan PattersonSusan is a contributing writer for Dave's Garden. She is a Master Gardener and a sustainable living researcher who is always on the lookout for ways to simplify and make environmentally conscious decisions. With a background in nutrition and extensive knowledge of whole foods and wellness, Susan incorporates sustainable living practices that will improve the health of her family while reducing their carbon footprint

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