Make a Rain Barrel

During dry months, 40 percent of the average household's water consumption goes to outdoor watering. Rather than needlessly draining that water out of the faucet, gather rainfall in a rain barrel connected to the gutter system and use it to keep the lawn and garden green.

The benefits of rain barrels include the conservation of water (with the collection of rain water from roofs), saving money (by using collected water to water your garden and lawn for free) and reduction of stormwater runoff (by collecting and diverting runoff from storm drains).

Just an inch of rainfall on a 1,000-square-foot roof will accumulate over 600 gallons of fresh water.


Picking out a barrel:

Here are a couple of things to look for when choosing a barrel:

  • Choose a model topped with a mesh screen that will keep debris out of the barrel and a lid that prevents mosquitoes from using the water as a breeding ground when it's not raining.
  • Look for a barrel equipped with a side spigot where a hose can be attached and watering cans can be easily filled.
  • Also, most rain barrels can hold up to sixty gallons of water, so make sure it's parked on a strong and steady surface. 

What you will need:

  • Power drill with 1-inch hold drill bit

  • Wrench

  • Pliers

  • Screwdriver

  • Utility knife or small saber/jigsaw

  • Scissors

  • Hacksaw

  • 3/4-inch hose bib (measures 1 inch on the outside)

  • 2 washers

  • 1 lock nut

  • Silicone sealant

  • Bricks or cinder blocks

  • Barrel top or screening and hardware cloth

Making the rain barrel:

  1. Drill a 1-inch hole near the bottom of the barrel.
  2. Apply the silicone sealant around the outside of the hole.
  3. Place one washer on the hose bib and screw the host bib into the hole. Keep the faucet straight as you screw it in.
  4. Apply silicone sealant to the waster and use the pliers to fasten the lock nut.
    • TIP: You will need to reach down into the barrel to apply the silicone sealant and attach the washer and lock nut.
  5. Make the desired cover for your rain barrel.
    • Option 1: Cut the screen and metal hardware cloth to fit the top of the barrel.
    • Option 2: Cut a hole in the top of the barrel to collect rooftop runoff directly from the downspout.

Installation of your barrel:

  1. Prepare the area under your downspout by leveling the ground and adding sand or gravel. (This is where you will place your barrel.)
  2. Use bricks or cinder blocks to create a platform. (Rain barrels need to be higher than ground level. The higher the barrel, the higher the water pressure.)
  3. Use the hacksaw to cut the downspout down to size. (Rain barrels need to be higher than ground level. The higher the barrel, the higher the water pressure.)
  4. BONUS: Prevent overflow from significant rainfall:
    • Option 1: Drill a hole near the top of the barrel and point it away from an area where you don't want flooding. 
    • Option 2: Create a system by hooking the barrel to a second rain barrel.


Learn how to make your own rain barrel - PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)