How to Make a Rain Barrel for a Home Garden


Rain barrels collect the water run-off from your roof for use in the garden. Using this natural rainfall in the garden will save money on your water bill. While commercially produced rain barrels are available, a simple barrel is easy to make and much less expensive. All the supplies needed to make your own are readily available at hardware and home improvement stores and you don't have to be very handy to complete one.

Step 1

Purchase a 55-gallon plastic drum. Alternately, use a large heavy-duty trash can with a tight-fitting lid. Avoid those made of flimsy plastic as they will break down quickly under the weight of the water.

Step 2

Purchase an elbow attachment for your gutter down spout. Measure your gutter opening first to make sure you purchase the right size elbow for your spout.

Step 3

Set the barrel under the down spout in its permanent location. Place a layer of bricks or paving blocks under the barrel to raise it at least 6 inches above ground level.

Step 4

Trace the elbow opening onto the lid of the barrel where the down spout elbow intersects with a permanent marker. Cut out the traced opening in the lid with a jig saw.

Step 5

Measure 10 inches up the side of the barrel from the bottom. Do this on the side opposite where you cut out the down-spout hole in the lid. Drill a 7/8-inch hole at the 10-inch mark.

Step 6

Coat the spigots threads with PVC glue. Slide into the hole drilled in the barrel and hold in place until the glue begins to dry.

Step 7

Drill a ¾-inch hole in the side of the barrel 2 inches down from the top. Coat a 6-inch length of ¾-inch diameter PVC pipe in PVC glue and insert in this hole. This is for water overflow once the barrel is full.

Step 8

Place the barrel back under the down spout. Rotate the elbow until it fits snugly into the cut out on top. Use water from the barrel by attaching a hose to the spigot or by placing a bucket or watering can under the spigot.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you use a trash can, bolt the lid to the body of the can. This prevents children from opening the can and falling inside. Use rain water for irrigation only, do not drink it.

Things You'll Need

  • Barrel
  • Down-spout elbow
  • Permanent marker
  • Jig saw
  • Drill
  • Spigot
  • PVC glue
  • PVC pipe


  • University of Florida
Keywords: rain barrel construction, rain water collection, garden irrigation

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.