Monday, April 16, 2012

How to Build a Rain Barrel

The Problem:
A garden, which requires daily watering in the summer.

A gutter that creates a waterfall to the ground, and the water has gouged an 8-inch hole in the ground.

The Solution:
A rain barrel! A rain barrel will catch the falling water, and save it for when we need it.

We looked around to buy a barrel, but they're fairly expensive. We really had no idea how large a barrel we needed. We checked out YouTube for videos of how to make one ourselves. It turns out that it was a project that was fairly inexpensive and simple, so off we went to Home Depot.

  • Irrigation tube: $5.41
  • 32 gal. trash can: $9.88
  • 3/4" spigot: $5.33
  • Auto/Marine sealant: $4.57
  • 8 cement blocks: $$1.39 each, $11.12 total
  • 4 cement caps: $1.09 each, $4.36 total
  • 2 1" Spring Clamps: $2.09 each, $4.18 total
  • Things around the house: Knife, scissors, x-acto knife, Sharpie, length of old water hose, dirt
Total Price: $44.85
Let's get started!

The Base:
  1. Arrange four cement blocks in a square, leaving a square hole in the middle (see the photos below)
  2. We filled the spaces with dirt for extra stability
  3. Start with the next layer of cement blocks. Fill with dirt.
  4. Top off with the cement caps

The Spigot:
  1. Trace around the spigot onto the side of the trash can. Cut out inside the traced hole.
  2. Apply glue
  3. More glue
  4. Work the spigot into the hole

The Overflow Hose:
  1. Trace around the hose and cut a hole a few inches from the top of the trash can.
  2. Cut the hose to length long enough to send the overflow water where you want it (Ours was just long enough to make it to the ground and a foot or so away. We already had the water pounding into the ground, so a softer flow of water onto the same place seemed like it would be fine. You could use a longer hose to direct to a flower bed or wherever.)
  3. Insert the hose into the cut hole. Make sure the metal attachment is on the inside of the trash can, to help the hose stay in place
  4. Glue

The Drain Pipe:
  1. Cut slits in the rim to accommodate the larger gutter.
  2. Slide over gutter and measure length to trash can.
  3. Cut off excess pipe
  4. Trace and cut hole in trash can lid 
  5. Clamp pipe to gutter, and put other end of pipe in trash can
Tada! You're done! Now just wait for the rain! It only took one night of good rain to fill up our barrel! I'll be interested to see how much water it takes to water the garden.

  1. If you're an observant kind of person, you'll notice that in the pictures, our rain barrel moved from directly under the window to a few feet to the right. Let's just say, test out your pipe and how it connects to the gutter before deciding where to put the base.
  2. I suppose, if 32gal doesn't end up being enough, that we could add a second barrel using the same technique, only connecting it to the first barrel with the overflow hose, so it will fill up after the first is full.
  3. I'm hoping that having a lid for the barrel will prevent mosquitoes, but I will definitely be checking occasionally. A friend suggesting adding Mosquito Dunkers to the water to prevent mosquitoes. They're donut-shaped things that float on the water and kill mosquito larva.
After last night's rain, it looks like we'll need to add a little more sealant around the spigot. Other than that, I'm completely satisfied with my new rain barrel. I can't wait to start using it, and I really hopes it helps with our water usage this summer!