Every garden needs water to survive. However, during the summer, many homes with small gardens and large gardens alike dedicate up to 40 percent of their household water just for lawn maintenance.
Not only can this get expensive for your monthly water bill, but it is also not an environmentally sustainable way of tending to your garden.
Embracing the Power of Rainwater
Rainwater harvesting is a centuries-old practice that involves collecting and storing rainwater for later use. By harvesting rainwater, you can reduce your reliance on traditional water sources.
Rainwater harvesting offers a range of benefits, from providing a free source of water for your garden to reducing stormwater runoff and erosion.
One of the easiest ways to keep your garden flourishing while also keeping your water bill low as well as participating in water conservation is by using a rain barrel. These are containers that collect rain water using a downspout adapter coming from your roof or rain gutter, directed into the rainwater barrel through a diverter.
Rainwater is then filtered through a piece of screen on top of the can so there is no debris mixed into the excess water.
Rain barrels can be constructed in a variety of ways. Still, they serve the same purpose of collecting rainwater to decrease your household’s impact on local waterways and to become a good steward of the local watershed.
DIY Rain Barrel: A Step-by-Step Guide
Building your own rain barrel is an affordable and rewarding DIY project. With just a few materials and some basic tools, you can have your rainwater harvesting system up and running in no time.
Let’s dive into the process and get started on building your very own rain barrel:
The first step in building a rain barrel is selecting a suitable container, such as a large food-grade barrel or a sturdy plastic drum. Make sure it’s clean and has a tight-fitting lid to prevent debris and insects from getting in.
Step 1: Choose a Barrel
Plastic rain barrels to store rainwater can be purchased in gardening, hardware stores, and home improvement stores. However, you can also use recycled materials for a fraction of the cost of a new one.
You can use food-safe shipping functional rain barrels with a storage capacity of 55 gallons to prevent contaminants from leaching into your garden beds.
Alternatively, you can also use second-hand wooden barrels if you don’t want to use plastic for your food-grade barrels.
Once you have your container:
Step 2: Create a Top Hole
Using a skimmer basket as a guide, trace a circle and pre-drill a small hole using 1″ spade bit, making sure to drill inside the line. Use a jigsaw to cut out a hole using the inside line as a guide.
Step 3: Prepare a Filtering Basket
Cut a piece of fiberglass window screen to fit the skimmer basket. Affix the screen to the lip of the basket using silicone caulk or plumbing sealant. Allow several hours to dry and place on the top hole.
Step 4: Make a Lower Drain
For the next step, mark holes at least two inches from the bottom of the recycled barrel. Use a 1″ drill bit to drill the hole. Screw a plastic faucet into the hole and use a utility knife, as needed, to increase the hole size.
Remove the faucet, wrap threads in Teflon tape, caulk threads, replace the faucet. Caulk the area where the faucet and barrel meet to ensure no leakage.
Step 5: Make Upper Drain
Mark holes at least two inches from the top of the decorative rain barrel. Use a 1″ drill bit to drill the hole. Screw the plastic faucet into the hole and use a utility knife as needed to alter the hole.
Wrap 3⁄4″ coupling threads in Teflon tape and caulk and screw onto faucet inside the rescue rain barrel.
Step 6: Attach Hoses
Cut 2′ section of plastic hose and then push each end of the hose into a hose coupler and tighten screws—screw 3′ section onto top outflow faucet and 2″ section to bottom the faucet. Trace a hole for the basket.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Build a base using cinder blocks or concrete blocks to elevate the modern rain barrel. Adjust the end of your downspout to have the water flow into the homemade rain barrel.
Always keep the overflow hose or overflow valve open on your attractive rain barrels. And that’s how to make your own rain barrel.
From Rainfall to Garden Bliss
Now that you have your actual rain barrel set up be sure it’s on a stable and level surface and consider elevating it to provide better water flow.
Make sure the connections are secure and check for any leaks before the rainy season begins.
Side note: For mine – I just put it under my gutters that don’t have a downspout, I used a rain barrel cover I got for very cheap, I added a spigot to the bottom and a hose and I was set to go!
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Homemade rain barrels don’t have to be difficult. I made my own DIY rain barrel for my front porch from an old black plastic garbage can and landscape cloth (since it’s useless against weeds, I might as well get some use out of it.).
I placed the can directly under my gutter, and I cut a piece of landscape cloth to cover it. I used a couple of bungee cords to hold the cloth in place – and that’s it for my DIY rain barrel system – it is almost always full! Which means I always have gallons of water on hand at all times.
The rain is filtered through the cloth and keeps mosquitoes from laying eggs in it. The bungee cord holds the fabric in place. I remove the fabric and fill my watering can to water my vegetable garden and replace the cloth. (This is my previous set up before I knew they even made covers for them…)
My setup doesn’t quite work for an entire yard, but so far, it worked for the seedlings I grew inside under grow lights as well as all the container plants on my porch.
Here’s another method you can use to make one for your home:
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The Advantages of Rainwater Harvesting
Rainwater harvesting offers numerous benefits for both the environment and your household. By using collected rainwater, you decrease the demand for treated water, reducing strain on local water supplies. Additionally, rainwater is naturally soft and free of harsh chemicals, making it ideal for plants and gardens.
Another significant benefit is the potential cost savings. With a rain barrel, you can significantly reduce your water consumption, leading to lower water bills over time. By adopting this sustainable practice, you’re not only conserving resources but also putting money back into your pocket.
Nurturing Nature with Every Drop
Incorporating rainwater into your gardening routine promotes eco-friendly practices. Unlike tap water, rainwater doesn’t contain chlorine or other chemicals, making it healthier for your plants and the soil. It also helps to minimize runoff, erosion, and pollution of nearby water bodies.
With rainwater as your irrigation source, you’ll notice healthier and more vibrant plants. Rainwater is naturally balanced, providing essential nutrients and minerals that support plant growth. Embrace the power of rainwater and watch your garden thrive.
The Potential of Rainwater
Water scarcity is a growing concern, and utilizing rainwater is an effective way to conserve this precious resource. By capturing rainwater in a barrel, you’re taking a proactive step towards water conservation. Every drop saved makes a difference, especially in areas prone to droughts or water restrictions.
As you become more conscious of water usage, you may discover additional water-saving solutions that complement rainwater harvesting. These can include:
- using water-efficient appliances
- installing low-flow fixtures
- practicing mindful water habits in your daily routine
Tips for Using Rain Barrels
Making the Most of Rainy Days
To optimize rainwater collection, it’s important to maximize the surface area that captures rainfall. Consider installing rain chains or gutter extensions to direct more water towards your rain barrel. Additionally, keep your gutters clean and free from debris to ensure smooth water flow.
Monitoring weather patterns can also help you anticipate when to expect rainfall, allowing you to prepare your rain barrel for optimal collection. Stay informed about local climate conditions and make the most of rainy days by filling up your barrel for future use.
Be sure to follow these steps to make the most of your rain barrel:
- Cover the top basket with the screen, and make sure that all other openings are secured to prevent mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects from entering the attractive rain barrel
- Make sure your barrel design is clean and free of chemicals before using
- Disconnect the rustic rain barrel from the bottom of the downspout during winter months to avoid the formation of damaging ice
- During severe storms, it may be necessary to open both valves to prevent overflow.
And The Journey Begins
Congratulations on completing your rain barrel! By building your own rain barrel and incorporating rainwater into your daily life, you’re making a positive impact on the environment and embracing a sustainable lifestyle.
Enjoy the benefits of water conservation, cost savings, and vibrant gardens as you continue to nurture nature, one drop at a time.
Do you already have a rain barrel? How did you make your own rain barrels? Share with us in the comments below.
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