A rain barrel is wonderful for saving rainwater to water plants later. It’s also an easy DIY home project.
All of the rain we’ve gotten this year has been wonderful. The plants and landscaping around our house look green and lush. Flowers are blooming, and plants are growing like crazy with all of the water they’ve received. Unfortunately, this July and August, like every year, it’s going to get hot and dry. The plants will wilt and turn brown, and unless I give them water, they will die. If only there was a way to bottle up a rain storm and save it for this summer.
Fortunately, there is a way to do just that with rain barrels. A rain barrel collects water when it rains to save for later.
You can buy a rain barrel, but it’s really easy to make one, and more environmentally friendly.
Start with a food-grade barrel. We found a place that sells used food-grade barrels on Craigslist. The ones we bought were used to ship peppers. Inside they still smells like peppers and there’s some left-over liquid and seeds. It won’t bother the plants we water at all. This water will NOT be used for drinking or anything indoors. We didn’t even rinse the barrel out.
Next, the rain barrel needs a spigot. I’ve read other blogs that show what pieces to buy to make your own spigot, but we used this kit from Earth Minded (an affiliated link to Amazon) because it came with all the parts for the spigot and connecting to a gutter downspout (which we will get to one day). Also, there’s no need to climb inside the barrel with this spigot, a definite plus. The top three parts are used for the spigot.
I measured 3 inches up from the bottom because the spigot needs to be near the bottom to allow all the collected water to flow out.
The kit came with the drill bit and hole saw I needed to drill a small hole at that 3-inch mark. I tried using out 12 volt, cordless drill, but those barrels are thick, and a corded drill worked much better.
I shoved the threaded rubber seal into the hole. That took a little bit of squeezing and pushing, but it popped in just fine (and no climbing into the barrel to attach an inside part!).
Finally, I screwed the spigot into the rubber seal. We learned that the spigot needs to be screwed in tightly or else there will be a small leak.
The rain barrel needs to be placed at least 6 inches above the ground, so that a hose can be hooked up to the spigot, or a bucket can be placed underneath. We learned the hard way that the rain barrel needs to be elevated before it fills up with water. It wasn’t very fun to transfer 55 gallons of water out the top of the rain barrel with a bucket. Don’t try it.
This handy little sticker reminds everyone that rain water is for plants, not people.
We’re working a rain barrel stand that will hold it about a foot above ground, but until then, it sits on the edge of our deck step. I’ll post about the rain barrel stand when it’s finished.
Here’s the rain barrel collecting water during our last rain storm. I’m amazed how quickly they fill up. As soon as we get new gutters installed, we can use the rest of the kit to connect to the down spout so the lid will stay on the barrel, and no bugs will get in. Right now, we just have to remember to replace the lid when the rain stops or the barrel is full.
Every time I use water from out rain barrel, I get so excited that we have free water for our garden. It’s such a good feeling.