Trials and tales of a not-so-advanced gardener--both in the dirt and beyond.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My "how to" on Building a Rain Barrel

Almost a year ago I purchased a 55 gallon drum via CraigsList. My intentions were to make a rain barrel and, finally, I've completed (well, almost -- you can see I need to do some more painting) this project.


I should have painted it before putting everything together. This was electric blue, so I found some spray paint, specifically designed to be used on plastic. This color is cocoa bean.

After all of the recent rains, this bad boy is full and ready to water.


Here are the steps we took to make this happen (which is a bit different than other instructions I've found):
  • Acquire large container. I'm told pop producers generally sell these for pretty cheap.
  • Remove old downspout and affix an adjustable downspout (I bought this one at Lowe's for about $8), so that the water will run directly to the input hole of the barrel.
  • Cut a hole in the top of the barrel (we used a hand saw for this, I'm sure a reciprocating saw would have make this simple)
  • Drill a hole near the bottom of one side (we used a 1" hole bit) -- this is where the water will come out, and one near the top of the opposite side -- this is where the overflow will leave
  • Cut a piece of window screen/wire mesh for the input hole on the top
  • Screwed the wire into the plastic to cover said hole
  • Installed super handy (and available at my local Ace Hardware, $10 each) contraptions that take the place of washers, silicone, etc. to make a tight seal for both the spigot at the bottom and the overflow valve
  • Attached 3/4" spigot and 3/4" bib (to attach a a drain hose)
  • Painted it (I suggest doing this at the beginning of your project)
  • Put it in place on 2 cinder blocks
  • Attached 5 foot hose to the overflow bib attachment
  • Collected water!
Remember to close (aka turn off) the spigot, or your rainwater will just run out of the barrel...

Or, if this sounds too complicated, you can always buy one. If you're in Indianapolis, I suggest buying one from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. They will plant a tree for each barrel purchased.