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How to build a rain barrel for collecting rainwater

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.

Conserve water by collecting rainwater and using it for your garden or lawn.



  • Recycled food barrel (try checking with large restaurants or food distributors)
  • 2 to 4 concrete blocks (to allow room for a bucket to fit under the spigot)
  • 3/4-inch hose spigot
  • Drill
  • Saber saw
  • 3/4 x 1-1/4-inch threaded pipe nipple (used as overflow connector)
  • Window screen
  • PVC cement

Rain Barrel Photo


1. Wash out the barrel with a solution of 1/8-cup bleach and 5 gallons of water.

2. Drill a 15/16-inch hole a few inches from the bottom of the barrel. Thread the spigot halfway into the barrel, apply PVC cement onto the threads and continue screwing it in until snug.

3. Using the same procedure as the spigot, install the 3/4-inch overflow connector a few inches from the top of the barrel.

4. Choose a good spot for the rain barrel. It needs to be close to a rain downspout and a short distance from your plants and gardens.

5. Raise the barrel off the ground by placing it on concrete blocks. Reconfigure the downspout so it empties directly into the barrel. Use the screen to cover the open hole in the barrel to prevent insects or debris from getting in.

6. If you’ve installed an overflow, you can attach a hose and direct the water to another part of your yard.

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68 Comments on How to build a rain barrel for collecting rainwater

  1. harmony4u // July 8, 2017 at 2:55 am // Reply

    I am environmentalist. i saved water all my life and used it watering plants and even washing the driveway. pl. save water for next generations. Thanks to who does.

  2. Be aware, many cities and states have made collecting rainwater illegal. research the laws in your community before starting this project!

  3. What’s the water pressure like? Do you Need a pump?

  4. these barrels are great… we have 3, no problems with insects if you ad the screen people.

  5. Thank you this is exactly what I was looking for

  6. My dad found actual rain barrels inside a car wash.

  7. learn2shoot // May 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm // Reply

    Be sure to check local laws collecting rain water is actually illegal in some areas.

  8. LOL:>

  9. Where do you get the barrels?

  10. I goggled….Where to buy food grade rain barrels in my state and found a great source less than two blocks from my work!

  11. Green Scout // April 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm // Reply

    I made one of these two years ago and I cannot use the water fast enough! I love it and have yet to have problems with Mosquitos. I use the water on my flower beds, vegetable garden, and have a bottle of camp soap on it to wash my hands too!

    • Guys, anyone having trouble with mosquitos is because you didn’t read carefully enough. In the listings of the materials you will need it says “Window screen”. Just take out the top of the barrel, place the window screen, and screw the top back on.

    • One drop of oil puts a shean on the water misquotes can’t break thru it. Your safe frm the varmints do not drink tho

    • whoda thunk // May 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm // Reply

      One trick for mosquitos if the barrel always has “some” water and is in a shady, not-too-hot spot is to put a goldfish in there. It has to be bigger than the spout though! It will eat the mosquito larvae and it’s poo will add nitrogen to your garden.

  12. If you gather rain off your roof, be aware the water that runs over any shingles or tar will be full of nastiness not recommended for food growing. grass, probably ok.

    • seascout291 // August 18, 2010 at 9:00 am // Reply

      Great project – wish we’d thought of it – we bought a commercially built water barrel. Standing water may allow mosquitoes to breed – get some beneficial bacteria mosquito control rings at your garden or home improvement center. The bacteria eat the mosquito larvae. The screening alone may not prevent mosquitoes … and you don’t want to potentially spread disease like West Nile.

    • brother of eagle. // October 17, 2010 at 9:31 pm // Reply

      hey to prevent that stuff getting in the baRREL PUT AFEW layers of tightly woven screen over the hole then it will filter out the bad stuff so the you can use it for growing

    • is it ok for flowers?

      • Anonymous // January 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm //

        yeah just put a screen on it and some fertilizer in and good water but you should use a bucket to water the flowers

    • mother earth // April 2, 2012 at 8:01 am // Reply

      add a tablespoon or two of salad oil to the barrel. The oil provides a barrier to the mosquitos and won’t hurt the barrel or the plants.

  13. wouldent you think it would rust if it was metal

  14. outdoor man // March 5, 2010 at 8:16 pm // Reply

    this is great!My MoM and DaD are going to make this this summer.

  15. Boy Scout Man // December 20, 2009 at 9:11 pm // Reply

    One problem, Mission Viejo dosen’t get much rain!

  16. This sounds like a great way to go green!

  17. to sniper: LoL!!

  18. Wow! Neat Idea!

  19. cool i will talk to my faimly about it

  20. mine got zapped by lighting!!!!!!!!

  21. really good project gonna try it and post the out come

  22. Great project. I built one. How about a hovercraft project?

  23. not sure if itll work… it might leak

  24. great…i like to see this article

  25. historygeek // August 18, 2009 at 3:36 pm // Reply

    Looks great

  26. where will I get a barrels? from a store.

  27. where will I get a barrels from a store

  28. where will i get a barrels

    • Opie Wan Kenopi // May 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm // Reply

      You can also contact a local car wash owner, they get soap and water treatment in large blue barrels. Most of these barrels are not the lidded style though. But that works out fine for a water barrel. Just clean it well I recomend letting watter sit in it for several days after a good clean then dumping it. (sometimes the soaps and treatment leech into the plastic).

  29. I bet lowes as some barrels cause after all lowes knows

  30. JustUrIrishLuck // June 17, 2009 at 2:44 pm // Reply

    I would love to conserve water, but this is a lot tougher than it sounds. Be careful on this one… it’s super tricky!

  31. ScoutCommish // June 9, 2009 at 7:19 pm // Reply

    This is a great project guys! It may take a little time and effort to get the stuff to do it, but ask your parents or another adult for help and it will be much easier to get the parts.
    Car washes, restaurants, pickle processors all will have these barrels. Just look around. You’ll be surprised.

  32. Mikethemaster // May 27, 2009 at 7:26 am // Reply

    go green!!!

  33. cool status

  34. macinsplince // May 26, 2009 at 9:43 pm // Reply

    its kind of nerdy but cool

  35. mommyof2leader2wolves // May 26, 2009 at 8:21 pm // Reply

    You can get your rain barrel at a full service car wash.

  36. this is so fun

  37. jordan4762 // May 26, 2009 at 6:42 pm // Reply

    Higuy, It Says Ask A Resturant!!

  38. cool )= -o

  39. SKITT KID // May 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm // Reply

    Im going to start to build this today. What a way to conserve water!!!!

  40. scoutsislife // May 26, 2009 at 3:19 pm // Reply

    this is really cool i never thought to do this this is a really good idea i really like it. i am going to build one for my family

  41. Wow! Sounds great! Mabey I can make one in less a hour!

  42. red barren // May 25, 2009 at 5:07 pm // Reply

    wow maybe i can get my awesome troop leader to get my aesome troop members to do this

  43. i think it is a totally rad way of saving H2O

  44. this is fun

  45. man how do i get all that stuff

  46. good project // May 23, 2009 at 1:28 pm // Reply

    this is very cool and very usefull

  47. i am green // May 19, 2009 at 12:47 pm // Reply

    this is a great project.yes , i am green.i agree w/higuy-where will i get a barrel?

  48. Where should I get a barrel?

  49. looks like im the first one

  50. not what i expected

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