Lawn and Garden

Lawn + Garden

Outdoor Projects

DIY Rain Barrel

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 120 Projects

Practically everything around your house that requires water loves the natural goodness that’s provided with soft rainwater. With a simple rain barrel, you can collect rainwater to irrigate your garden or lawn, wash your car, or top off swimming pools and hot tubs. Collecting rainwater runoff in rain barrels can save thousands of gallons of tap water each year. A typical 40 × 40-ft. roof is capable of collecting 1,000 gallons of water from only one inch of rain. A simple rain barrel system that limits collected water to outdoor (nonpotable) use, like the rain barrels described on the following pages, can have a big impact on the self-sufficiency of your home, helping you save on utility expenses and reduce the energy used to process and purify water for your lawn and garden. Some communities now offer subsidies for rain barrel use, offering free or reduced-price barrels and downspout connection kits. Check with your local water authority for more information. Get smart with your water usage, and take advantage of the abundant supply from above.


  1. HI06100101

    Cut a large opening in the barrel top or lid. Mark the size and shape of your opening—if using a bulk food barrel, mark a large semi-circle in the top of the barrel. If using a plastic garbage can with a lid, mark a 12"-dia. circle in the center of the lid. Drill a starter hole, and then cut out the shape with a jigsaw.

  2. HI06100102

    Install the overflow hose. Drill a hole near the top of the barrel for the overflow fitting. Thread the barb fitting into the hole and secure it to the barrel on the inside with the retainer nut and rubber washer (if provided). Slide the overflow hose into the barbed end of the barb elbow until the end of the hose seats against the elbow flange

  3. HI06100103

    Drill the access hole for the spigot (either a hose bibb or sillcock, brass or PVC). There are many ways to make the spigot connection. We tightened the stem of the sillcock onto a threaded coupling which is inserted into the access hole. Inside the barrel, a rubber washer is slipped onto the coupling end and then a threaded bushing is tightened over the coupling to create a seal. Apply a strip of Teflon tape to all threaded parts before making the each connection. Caulk around the spigot flange with clear silicone caulk.

  4. HI06100104

    Screen over the opening in the top of the barrel. Lay a piece of fiberglass insect mesh over the top of the trash can and secure it around the rim with a cargo strap or bungee cord that can be drawn drum-tight. Snap the trash can lid over the top. Once you have installed the rain barrel, periodically remove and clean the mesh.