How To: Make a Rainwater Collection Barrel

How To: Make a Rainwater Collection Barrel

Feb 25, 2008
In our ongoing efforts to live a greener lifestyle we've decided that not only do we want to grow our own organic herbs and produce, we'd also like to water our plants with collected rainwater. We looked around for some rainwater collection systems, and found several appealing options online, but realized we could put together our own with minimal effort for a fraction of the cost. See below the jump for instructions on how to build your own.


  • 30 gallon plastic barrel
  • flat wood bit (drill bit used for creating large holes)
  • Teflon plumber's tape
  • spigot
  • tight-mesh screening material
  • hose
  • cinderblocks


  • Acquire a barrel. We quickly found someone selling some on Craigslist for $10 each - score.
  • Drill a hole in the barrel just above the bottom for your spigot. The hole should be slightly smaller than the screw-in part of the spigot to insure a tight fit
  • Screw in the spigot. If it leaks (we tested it in the bathtub), unscrew it, apply teflon tape to the threaded end, and screw it back in. Repeat until you have a water-tight fit.
  • Place screening material over the holes on top of the barrel & secure with wire or rubber washers - this will prevent both debris from getting into your barrel and mosquitoes from getting in and laying eggs.
  • Place barrel onto cinder blocks (the extra height will help get the water out of your barrel - remember that water flows down, so you want the spigot to be at least as high as the plants you want to water.)
  • Cut and re-route a drain pipe so that it drains into your barrel. This is key - on its own the barrel won't collect much water, if it's under a drainpipe you're effectively getting all the water from the entire surface of your roof.
  • Attach hose
  • Wait for it to rain, and then water your plants!

    Total cost & time: about $30 and one hour

    Is it the most beautiful thing we've ever made? Definitely not. But it works, and our plants seem to be pretty happy with it. And we think that eating home-grown rain-watered produce will be a pretty beautiful thing indeed.

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