If you have a garden or alot of plants then you know that you can use quite a bit of water keeping everything green, especially when there are days or weeks between rain showers. I have noticed rain barrels being sold at Whole Foods for $99 and thought the construction looked simple enough to do on my own and possibly at far less a price. So I undertook the task of doing just that. I picked up an empty barrel at a local farm store that once contained olives. It even had one olive left inside when I got it, I didn’t eat it as tempting as it was. Make sure you find a food grade barrel for this project, you don’t want unknown chemicals spread onto your garden or plants. All of the parts needed I either had lying around or picked up at the local Home Depot.
- (1) 3/4″ Male Hose Bibb (I used a no kink bibb)
- (2) 3/4″ PVC Female Adapter
- (1) 3/4″ tapped Male Hose to Male adapter
- (2) 1″ Galvanized or Brass Washers
- (4) #18 O-rings (1″)
- Teflon Tape
- 1″ Hole Drill Bit
- (1) Brass Hose Cap
- 18″x18″ Square Metal Screen
- (8) Aluminum Self-starting Screws
3/4″ Male No-Kink Hose Bibb
3/4″ Tapped Male Hose to Male Adapter
#18 O-Ring (1″)
3/4″ PVC Female Adapter
1″ Hole Drill Bit
First, clean the barrel inside and out. I did not use any detergent, only a few heavy rinses of water for the inside. Next, drill two holes using the 1″ hole drill bit. The first of the two should be about 3-4 inches from the bottom of the barrel on a flat surface above the curve of the barrel. The second will be near the top of the barrel and will be used as an overflow valve. After drilling both holes wrap the end of the 3/4″ hose bibb in teflon tape, a strip about 4 inches long should suffice, then place, in order, a 1″ washer and one of the o-rings onto the bibb and thread it into the bottom hole on your barrel. Now, you may need a second person to help. You will need to reach into the barrel and place a second o-ring onto the bibb and screw the 3/4″ inch PVC female adapter onto the bibb. You will need someone to hold the bibb from the outside while you tighten the PVC adapter from the inside. Once the bibb has been installed move to the top of the barrel. Take the 3/4″ male hose adapter and place a strip of teflon tape around the threads not used for the hose, the ones closer together. Next, place a 1″ washer and a o-ring onto the adapter and thread it into the top hole. Place an o-ring and the second 3/4″ PVC female adapter on the hose adapter inside the barrel and tighten.
Bottom bibb assembly attached
Bottom bibb assembly showing o-ring behind washer
Female PVC adapter attached to bottom bibb assembly inside barrel
Male Hose to Male adapter assembly at top of barrel (overflow)
View of overflow assembly showing o ring
Female PVC adapter attached to male adapter assembly (overflow)
The lid of your barrel my be different from the one I have. The barrel I used had a two-piece lid with a cover and a ring to tighten the lid on, similar to a canning jar. In order to keep debris and mosquitoes out of the barrel you will need to attach a screen to the lid. I did this by cutting a 8″ diameter hole in the lid and attaching a piece of metal screen underneath. I used the plastic circle I cut from the lid and cut that into four 1″ wide strips. Using a square piece of screen wrap each of the corners around a strip and attach to the lid using aluminum screws.
Screen attached to lid – bottom view
Screen attached to lid- Top view
Your rain barrel is now complete. You will need a place to put your barrel so it can catch run-off from your gutter downspout. A platform which is level is very important as a full barrel weighs about 400 pounds and would be very dangerous to people or animals who may be around if it were to topple over. Also, you will need to place the barrel at a height which is higher than to place you want to water using a hose to create sufficient waterflow.
Platform built using concrete blocks
Once you are ready to setup the rain barrel cut the gutter downspout at a place higher than the top of the barrel and use a plastic downspout hose to redirect the water to the top of your rain barrel. You may want to cut a section of the downspout out and leave the bottom portion of the downspout in place. Doing so allows you to fill the gap in the downspout wiht a piece of tubing so when your rain barrel is not being used, such as during the winter, you can once again have use of the downspout.
Your rain barrel will fill quickly during a downpour and the top overflow spout will be handy if connected to a hose into a spare bucket or another rain barrel.
Completed Rain Barrel
The total cost of this project was just under $25, a considerable savings from the $99.99 Whole Foods charges for a rain barrel which does not include your platform or downspout tubing. You can decorate the outside however you see fit. Paint it to match your home exterior or let the kids have fun with the paint, you can even drape plants over the top and sides as I will be doing soon. Also, this is a very simple project that only takes an hour at most to complete and will save you money.