How to Make a Rain Barrel

Don’t let that rainwater go to waste. This easy, recycled rain barrel project puts money back in your pocket.


Mick Telkamp

Conserve Water, Build a Rain Barrel!

A rain barrel is a great way to go green, using captured rain water to water the garden, lawn or even houseplants. For this project we use a recycled barrel and create a stylish cover with simple fence pickets and rope.

Choosing a Barrel

Plastic barrels suitable for use as a rain barrel can be purchased new, but many can be found secondhand for a fraction of the cost. We’re using a recycled food-grade barrel originally used for shipping pickles found on Craigslist. Wherever you get it, make sure it’s a food-grade barrel to avoid passing on any residual contaminants into your garden.



You Will Need

55-gallon plastic barrel with screw-top lid / two 3/4″ male iron pipe x 3/4″ male hose thread garden hose adapters / one 3/4″ threaded boiler drain / three 3/4″ female iron pipe adapters / six 1 3/4″ reducing washers / one tube silicone sealant / 2 feet of window screen / 2 cinder blocks / twenty 1/2” x 4” x 6’ fence pickets / 40 feet 5/8” manila rope / 1 quart outdoor-rated wood stain or paint / four 3/4″ screws / adjustable drain spout diverter / drill with 1-inch bit, 3-inch hole saw bit and Phillips head screwdriver bit / adjustable wrench / utility knife / miter saw or handsaw / bungee cord / stain rag or paintbrush / level

Add a Faucet

To create a faucet that can be used to fill watering cans or attach a garden hose, measure 1 foot from the base of the barrel and drill a hole using a 1-inch drill bit. If the edges of hole are spurred, use a razor blade to trim any excess plastic.

Add a Faucet

Coat the boiler drain thread with silicone and turn firmly into the hole until the base of spigot meets the barrel. No washer was necessary here, but if your barrel is not rigid (gives when pressed), coat one side of a washer and place it over the hole—silicone side to the barrel—before threading.

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