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Growing Greener: Rain Barrels

May 17, 2011

Rain barrels collect rainwater as it runs off the roof, and stores it for later use. This is a great thing for obvious reasons: reusing water, saving money, sparing gardens from chlorinated municipal water, and more. Last year we had an awful drought, and it would have been fabulous to have been able to water our plants using stored rainwater. We learned the hard way, and decided that we would have a rain barrel in place this year. So far it has been insanely rainy, and now I only wish we had more rain barrels!

Since I have an amazing DIY husband, we didn’t have to spend a bunch of money on a fancy and overpriced rain barrel. We scored a food grade 55 gallon barrel for $5, used some materials we had lying around, and picked up the rest at Lowes. I was hoping to do a step-by-step tutorial to build the rain barrel, but once the hubs starts a project, he stops for no one. He had the barrel constructed in no time, and I couldn’t keep up!

Before deciding how to proceed with building the rain barrel, we surfed the internet in search of tips. Here is what we came up with:

  1. Use plastic fittings: Apparently most people go with metal, and metal + plastic = leaks.
  2. To get the best possible water pressure, the spigot needs to be at the lowest point on the barrel. This also allows you to use all the water in the barrel. We turned the barrel upside down, and used the existing threads (on the cap) to make a water-tight seal.
  3. Raising the barrel up off the ground makes it easier to get it level (which is important for safety reasons), and eases access to the spigot.
  4. Make sure to use screens to keep debris & mosquitos out of the barrel.
  5. When it comes to the overflow, it should be the same size as the water intake. In the event the barrel fills up, the excess water should be able to escape as fast as it is entering the barrel.

Here are a few photos I took while he was working:

Cut hole for attaching the downspout.

Install trap to keep debris out of the barrel.

Just add rain.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Josh permalink
    June 22, 2011 4:41 pm

    Can you tell me where you purchased the food grade 55 gallon barrel? In/around Bloomington? I’m looking for one to turn into a compost bin! Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    • June 24, 2011 10:09 pm

      My husband purchased it from an employee of a restaurant, but I’m told that bottling companies are good places to find them – you might try Coca-Cola on Liberty Drive…

    • January 29, 2012 9:21 pm

      If you are still looking, I saw some barrels for sale in someone’s yard on Fairfax Rd earlier this week. I think they were asking $10 for them.

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