How to Install Rain Barrels

Overview

Install a rain barrel is not only environmentally-conscious, but it is also practical for watering your trees, shrubs and garden plants--especially if your area experiences droughts. By collecting and using rain water, you won't have to worry about running up your water bill or drying out your well during dry spells. Installing a rain barrel isn't as difficult as it seems, and if you don't want to make your own rain barrel, you can usually find commercially-made ones at home-improvement or hardware stores and online.

Step 1

Purchase a commercially-made rain barrel or make your own out of a large, preferably plastic drum. Make sure the container is food-safe and didn't contain chemicals. A 60-gallon container is a good size.

Step 2

Clean the rain barrel by rinsing it with a mixture of 1/8 cup of bleach and five gallons of water. Remove all residue or food remnants and give the barrel a final rinse of clean water.

Step 3

Lay four concrete cinder blocks on the ground where you'll place your rain barrel next to the desired rain-gutter downspout. Layer four more cinder blocks on top of the first four, stacking them in a criss-cross fashion. The blocks will provide a level platform for your rain barrel.

Step 4

Drill a hole for the spigot about three inches from the bottom of the barrel using a 15/16-inch drill bit. Insert a 3/4 inch spigot into the hole. Then, cut a hole in the barrel's lid or sealed top that is large enough to fit the downspout.

Step 5

Place the rain barrel on top of the cinder block platform, ensuring that you have enough height to connect the barrel to the downspout. Measure and mark the point at which the rain barrel is level with the downspout extender.

Step 6

Disassemble the downspout at the marked point by removing the screws or rivets. If you need to cut the downspout, do so at the marked line using a fine-toothed hacksaw blade. Attach the downspout extender to the downspout, and then insert the other end of the downspout extender into the hole in the top of the barrel.

Step 7

Attach a soaker hose to the spigot to water your garden or landscape plants, shrubs and trees.

Tips and Warnings

  • Test the stability and levelness of your concrete cinder blocks before placing the rain barrel on top of them. The blocks shouldn't wiggle or wobble at all.

Things You'll Need

  • 60-gallon plastic drum
  • Bleach
  • Hose
  • Concrete cinder blocks
  • Drill with 15/16-inch drill bit
  • ¾-inch spigot
  • Tape measure
  • Fine-toothed hacksaw blade
  • Flexible downspout extender
  • Soaker hose
  • Overflow pipe (optional)

References

  • Southwest Florida Water Management District: Building Your Own Rain Barrel
  • This Old House: How to Install Rainwater Collection

Who Can Help

  • City Farmer: Rain Barrels
Keywords: install rain barrel, rain water collection, collect rain water

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.