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How To Collect And Save Rainwater With A Rain Barrel

Updated on October 4, 2012
Photo of homemade rain barrel.
Photo of homemade rain barrel.

How To Collect Rainwater

Water bills are rising in most areas of the country and are expected to double in the coming decade due to growing shortages. You can save the rainwater that falls on your roof and washes down the storm drain to water your plants, even wash your car. You may even qualify for a local or state rebate in some areas, for installing a rain barrel or cistern.

How To Make A Rain Barrel.

You'll find a good video tutorial about how to build your own rain barrel at the bottom of this article.

Often there are rebates from your local water utility for purchasing your own rain barrel. You can now find rain barrels for sale at Home Depot, among other places.

Making your own rain barrel is fairly easy. You just need a food grade plastic barrel, some coarse screen to cover the top, and a valve and overflow tube. You attach the overflow tube just below the lip of the barrel to prevent water from spilling over the sides and creating a stain.

Considerations When Installing Rainwater Collection Systems

Make sue that you cover the top of any open barrels with a secure, heavy lid and screen, to keep kids and pets out of the barrel. Don't worry about the little bit of algae that collects in the barrel over time. It is not harmful to your plants.

You might consider installing a larger rainwater catchment system such as a cistern. You can purchase a 500 gallon tank from places such as Tractor Supply for a few hundred dollars and install it yourself, or have a local handyman do it for you.

When installing a large rainwater cistern, make sure that the ground can support the heavy weight and that you have built up a proper base. You'll want to truck in a load of sand or sandy loam to build a level base for the tank to sit on.

Making The Rainwater Collection Tank More Attractive

A big concern to many homeowners is the appearance of above ground rainwater cisterns.

To make plastic tanks more attractive consider ringing the tank with cedar fence pickets and banding them with a couple rings of galvanized strapping to create the appearance of an old wooden water tank or barrel. you can also surround the tank with bamboo screening or cover the gank with chicken wire and plant fast growing ivy to cover the tank.

Safety Of Rainwater Tanks

For cisterns use only tanks with closed tops to prevent drowning accidents and to keep wild animals and birds from falling into the tank. Cover any openings large enough for cats for birds to enter with heavy gauge screen mesh.

Have a gutter installer come and add any additional gutters you need and to divert your gutters into the tank. You might also consider adding a small electric pump so that you can run sprinklers or wash cars with the water you collect in your rainwater cistern.

For more ways to save water see

DIY Rain Barrel Video From Penn State University


Submit a Comment

  • Better Yourself profile image

    Better Yourself 4 years ago from North Carolina

    Love this idea! Definitely a great way to recycle water and save money. Thanks for sharing!

  • doodlebugs profile image

    doodlebugs 5 years ago from Southwest

    Rain barrels are a great way to cut down on your water bill. We have four of them and plan on adding even more.

  • SEO Expert Kerala profile image

    SEO Expert Kerala 8 years ago from KERALA

    nice work ,in india we used to collect rainwater in special ponds so hugw gallon of water is collected through it

  • profile image

    ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

    If we stay here in New Mexico, that's something we'll need to do. Water is already a problem here and it will only get worse.

  • Pete Maida profile image

    Pete Maida 8 years ago

    I'm going to consider doing that. I saw one of the larger water catchments in the world on the steep slope of the Rock of Gibraltar. It seems to work well for them.