DIY Gardening: Build a Rain Barrel

[Photo by Becky Striepe]

So your garden’s all planted, and your rows are marked. Maybe you’ve got some upside-down tomatoes going, and your compost bin is chugging right along. You’ve probably got quite a few thirsty plants to take care of!

Rainwater collection is controversial in certain parts of the U.S.. If rainwater harvesting is allowed in your area, though, it’s a great way to water your garden without drawing from the municipal water supply!

Store bought rain barrels can run you upwards of $100. Instead of dropping a ton of cash at the garden center, though, you can make your very own! Some restaurants will even give you their used 55 gallon food grade containers for free, which are perfect for making a rain barrel. Ask around…you might just be surprised!

Here’s a great video from HGTV on how to build your own rain barrel, complete with a spigot:


Those cinder blocks they’re talking about are no joke. Gravity is your friend, and it makes a big difference in terms of water pressure! When we first installed our rain barrels, they weren’t up on blocks, and we had practically zero water coming out of the hose. Those things are a hassle to move once they’re installed, I promise, especially if you’ve moved your gutter’s downspout to accommodate the barrel.

If you can’t find a bucket with a top like they have in the video, no problem! Just get a piece of screen that’s large enough to fit over the top of your barrel and secure it with a gigantic rubber band, like this:

[Photo by Becky Striepe]

So here is my question for you guys:

Do you have a rain barrel that you’ve decorated? Plain white or blue is fine, but our barrels sort of stand out in our garden, you know? I’ve thought about planting some bushes in front of them, but it might be nice to incorporate the barrels rather than try to hide them. What do you think?

18 thoughts on “DIY Gardening: Build a Rain Barrel”

  1. Here are step by step instructions on how to paint your barrel:…. I’d suggest you reconsider the safety aspects of your design. IF an animal were to climb on top they are likely not able to get out when the screen gives way. Your garden hose assembly is too high up from the bottom of the barrel. Your barrel may stink after awhile as the ‘dead water’ never leaves the barrel. I’d suggest going out through the bottom of the barrel this these parts:

  2. Hmm. The concrete blocks could become a tiny living wall…

    My spigot is actually higher up on my barrel but doesn’t get stinky. You would want to be able to make use of all your water in a drought though.

    One of my parter organizations made a nice brochure for making your own barrel out of a garbage can. I was skeptical, but I have not yet heard of any disastrous incidences:

    Great job on the barrel Becky!

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  5. Fred Penington

    Making rain barrels is easy and they are very useful – but – try finding a used barrel to construct one. Not going to happen in my neighborhood. Used barrels are available for upwards of $35 and by the time I buy the supplies to construct my own there is a $50 dollar invested. I can buy rain barrels for $45 dollars.

    Where do you get the barrels for little or no cost?
    UNTIL this question is answered honestly then quit printing stories that raise false hope.

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