How to Build a Rain Barrel


Rain naturally waters your lawn and garden, but you can't have rain on demand. A rain barrel collects the water that runs off your roof for later use in your garden on dry days. This helps save money on your water bill and preserves the water table in areas prone to periods of drought in summer. While you don't want to drink or cook with rain runoff, it is perfectly safe for use in your flower or vegetable garden. All the pieces to construct your barrel are available at hardware and home improvement stores.

Step 1

Use a heavy-duty, 55-gallon trash can or a plastic drum. Avoid flimsy trash cans, as they can't safely hold large amounts of water.

Step 2

Place a skimmer basket on top of the barrel lid near the edge with the open side down. Trace around it. Cut out the hole for the basket with a jigsaw just inside the traced lines.

Step 3

Drill a hole in the side of the barrel 2 inches from the top, using a 1-inch drill bit. Screw a plastic faucet into this hole and then screw a female coupling into the back of the faucet inside the barrel. Seal any holes in the attachment with caulk.

Step 4

Drill a 1-inch hole on the side of the barrel, 2 inches from the bottom edge. Avoid placing it directly beneath the upper faucet. Wrap the threads on a plastic faucet with Teflon tape, then pop it into the hole. Seal it in securely using caulk.

Step 5

Cut a garden hose into a 2-foot and 3-foot section. Attach a hose coupler to each end of the two pieces of hose and tighten the screws on the couplers to secure.

Step 6

Attach one end of the 3-foot hose to the top faucet. Screw the end of the 2-foot hose onto the bottom faucet.

Step 7

Make a level base for the rain barrel under the rain gutter downspout using cinder blocks. Set the barrel on top of the base.

Step 8

Place the skimmer basket into the hole on top of the barrel with the open side facing up. Set the downspout from the gutter into the skimmer basket.

Step 9

Close the bottom faucet and use this hose to fill up watering cans or buckets as needed. Leave the top faucet open as an overflow valve. Position this hose where rainfall overflow will not cause any issues with your landscaping or erosion.

Tips and Warnings

  • Replace the skimmer basket if it becomes damaged or cracked so mosquitoes and debris can't get in.

Things You'll Need

  • Barrel with lid
  • Skimmer basket
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • 1-inch drill bit
  • Plastic faucets, 3/4 inch
  • Coupling, 3/4 inch
  • Caulk
  • Teflon tape
  • Garden hose
  • Hose couplers
  • Cinder blocks


  • Mid-America Regional Council
Keywords: rain barrel construction, water conservation, roof runoff

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.