What You Need
50-gallon plastic barrel (your city may have a rain barrel program to provide these for $30 or less! Ask around to find the best deal in your area.)
Reducing washers (2)
Fine mosquito mesh
Drill fitted with a hole-cutting bit
Metal snips or box cutter
1. Drill a hole in the barrel for the faucet. Make the hole as low as possible, while still allowing room for attaching a hose or placing a watering can underneath.
2. Using a little bit of force, screw the faucet into the hole to create plastic threads. Then, slowly unscrew the faucet out.
3. Place a ring of caulk around the hole and fit a reducing washer over it, creating a watertight seal.
4. Screw the faucet into the washer (it will be easier this time since you've already created the threads).
5. You'll need to create the same watertight seal on the inside. Using a ring of caulk, a reducing washer, and a locknut, repeat the same process on the inside of the barrel (it helps to have a flashlight here). Note: Before crawling into the barrel, have a partner sit on top to keep the barrel from rolling.
6. Drill a hole in the top of the barrel, wide enough to accommodate the rain from the downspout.
7. Place mosquito mesh over the top of the barrel and screw the lid on tight.
8. Find a very level place to put your rain barrel. Using the box cutter or metal snippers, carefully cut your gutter downspout to the appropriate height, making sure that when the endspout is placed back on the downspout that rainwater will flow directly into your new barrel.
9. Wait for rain!
Additional notes: These are the general instructions; for a more in-depth how-to with more of their photos (and a sense of humor to boot!), be sure to visit their Young House Love blog.
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(Images: Sherry and John Petersik, used with permission)