Thank you so much to Northeast Avalon ACAP for sharing their resources for this post! They put together a great pamphlet and poster with the help of a Green Team to show step-by-step how to make your own rain barrel. PDF versions of the pamphlet and poster are also available on NAACAP's website if you want to print them off to use.
Purpose of Rain Barrels
A rain barrel is placed beneath the downspout of a home where it collects run-off water from the roof which would otherwise be unused.
Why use a rain barrel?
- They conserve water and save money! Collecting rainwater means you use less treated municipal water.
- Plants prefer to be watered with non-chlorinated water, like from rain barrels.
- They reduce run-off and flooding around your home.
- They're a great place to make compost tea to give your plants nutrition every time you water.
- Making and painting them can be a fun family project.
- They're inexpensive to buy and easy to make!
- watering your lawn
- watering your garden
- washing your car
- outdoor cleaning
At full capacity the rain barrel described below can hold between 50 – 60 gallons of water, providing 500 pounds of pressure for your watering needs. The rain barrel is equipped with a spigot, which allows owners to fill buckets or attach a garden hose.
Step 1: Gather Tools and Materials
The specific tools and materials you will need will depend somewhat on the type of barrel you have. You will likely need:
Tools- drill (and bits), adjustable wrench, serrated knife (or hacksaw blade)
Materials- barrel, insect netting, 4" hose clamp, tap, rubber o-ring, washer, 3"-4" PVC, coupling, silicone
Step 2: Cut Hole for Intake
Drill pilot holes and cut a 3” hole in the lid with a serrated knife (or hacksaw blade) – aim for a low point, but remember, the barrel will need to fit under your eavestrough’s downspout.
Step 3: Assemble Intake
Cut out a circular piece of mosquito netting that measures 5 inches in diameter. Attach mosquito netting to a PVC reducer with a hose clamp (Tip: cable-ties also work well).
Insert the PVC reducer into the 3 inch hole in the lid of the barrel.
Step 4: Connect Tap
Drill a hole in the side of the barrel, towards the bottom. Remember, you will want to leave enough room for a bucket or a watering can (or the barrel can be raised on blocks). Insert the tap. On the back of the tap, apply a bead of silicone, add the o-ring, then the washer, and then the nut. Tighten the nut with an adjustable wrench. Your rain barrel is all done!
Step 5 (optional): Paint
With a brush or a roller, lay down a base coat of acrylic latex primer. Then be creative and have fun! (Tip: painting is a great way to get the kids involved). We used green spray paint, and used leaves as stencils.