How to Make a Rain Barrel Home Garden


Rain barrels are typically used to collect water runoff from roofs for use around the home landscape. Age and weathering will eventually damage a rain barrel over time. Reusing the barrel to create a beautiful container garden allows thrifty gardeners to avoid disposing of an old barrel. The practical use of leftover materials provides the perfect opportunity to create a unique rain barrel home garden.

Step 1

Drain and rinse the inside of the rain barrel with a garden hose to remove mildew and soil from the inside of the rain barrel. Locate the lid and attach it to the top of the barrel.

Step 2

Flip the barrel onto its side and position it securely between two heavy objects (or use a helper). Wear protective goggles and use a circular saw to cut the barrel directly in half into two even sections. Keeping the barrel intact results in a planter that will stand out as an eyesore in the garden. Half-barrel sized planters allow partial burying of the barrel to limit visibility of the barrel material.

Step 3

Flip the barrel over with the open end facing down. Punch drainage holes into the barrel base using the hammer and screwdriver. Place 1-inch holes every 5 to 6 inches around the bottom of both halves the barrel.

Step 4

Place the barrel upright on the ground and examine the cut edges. File off sharp areas using a straight file or medium grit sandpaper.

Step 5

Dig out a round area in the garden to position the barrel to create a sunken barrel garden. Burying a portion of the barrel will hide some of the plastic material.

Step 6

Fill the barrel half full with shredded mulch to promote good drainage in the container and eliminate the use of a large amount of potting soil. Add potting soil to the barrel to bring the soil level to 3 to 4 inches below to the barrel rim.

Step 7

Position plants in the container after carefully removing each plant from its transplant pot. The top of each plant root ball should lie about 1 inch below the pot rim. Position trailing plants around the edges to hide the cut marks in the barrel material.

Step 8

Fill in around each plant with potting soil and firm the soil surface. Water the planter well to ensure deep penetration of moisture to plant roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Rain barrel
  • Garden hose
  • Circular saw
  • Goggles
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Straight file
  • Shovel
  • Trowel
  • Mulch
  • Potting soil
  • Plants


  • Eastern Illinois University: The Secret Garden
  • Connecticut Gardender: Planting Container Gardens
Keywords: barrel home gardens, barrel gardens, rain barrel gardens

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.