Conserve Water With a Rain Barrel

These easy-to-install barrels can save rainwater for your home and garden.
Eco Conscience Rain Barrel

Eco Conscience Rain Barrel

Collecting the rain that falls on your roof can help your garden and save some of your water usage. Master gardener Paul James, conservation expert Gina Hungerford and rain barrel builder Jeff Greer explain how to start your own water conservation system with easy-to-install rain barrels.

To save a little water from going down the drain, Hungerford offers a simple, efficient, low-cost method for homeowners to collect and recycle water. She suggests installing rain barrels, which are simply large containers that capture rainwater at the end of your downspout. According to Hungerford, a quarter-inch of rain falling on the average home yields about 200 gallons of water. A rain barrel can be filled within a matter of minutes during a good rain.

Steps

  1. Start with a large, food-quality, plastic barrel and drill a hole in the cap of the barrel with a large, 3/4-inch drill bit. While plastic is preferred because it won't rust, any large, waterproof container will work well.
  2. Drill a second hole nearby along the side of the container about 1 or 2 inches from the top.
  3. Flip the barrel over and drill a third hole into the base.
  4. Determine the number of pipe adaptors (male) and couplings (female) needed to span the distance from the hole at the barrel base to the outer edge of the barrel.
  5. Wrap each threaded adaptor end of piping with plumber's tape for a watertight seal.
  6. Screw the sections together, making sure they're secure and tight.
  7. Attach a curved coupling to the hole on the barrel base and connect the additional adaptors to the curved section. Join a spigot to the end of the attached pipe section. This will allow you to control the release of the collected water.
  8. The hole on the side of the barrel is for the spigot. Secure a small piece of PVC pipe through the hole to connect the spigot.
  9. Join the spigot to the pipe.
  10. Attach a garden hose to the spigot.
  11. To make a water collection funnel, cut a piece of window screening a little bigger than the PVC coupling and secure it with a hose clamp.
  12. Slide the pipe into the large hole in the barrel.
  13. To attach the rain collector to your house, find a location that is level. Remember that when the rain collector is full, it can weigh more than 400 pounds, so it's important to place it in a level location to keep the barrel stable.
  14. Place the rain barrel on stacked cinderblocks to raise it off the ground. This provides room underneath the barrel for the release spigot and a watering can to access the rainwater. Make sure the cinderblocks are stable.
  15. About 1 or 2 inches above the barrel along the gutter, cut out and hinge an elbow section.
  16. Fit the base of the section with a metal screen.
  17. Place a pad on the metal screen to soften the sound of rain hitting the metal.
  18. When the barrel is full, the downspout can be hinged closed to stop the flow of water to the barrel.
  19. Because most rain barrels hold only 55 gallons of water, you can stretch the garden's water supply even further for those dry summer months by adding additional barrels. Just make sure to redirect the surplus water.
  20. When you install your rain barrel, add an overflow pipe, so that excess water can escape. Make sure that the overflow pipe is pointed away from your home's foundation.
  21. Always keep a lid on your rain barrel to prevent any curious children or animals from toppling in, as well as preventing any potential mosquito populations from exploding.
  22. If you treat your roof for pests or wood, be sure to unhook your rain barrel for at least two weeks.
Keep Reading

Next Up

14 Simple Gardening Tips and Tricks

From using leftover coffee beans to preventing dirt from getting underneath fingernails, master gardener Paul James shares his top 14 tips and shortcuts to make spring gardening a breeze.

The Lowdown on Garden-Friendly Bugs

Learn about a variety of insects that can help prevent garden pests from terrorizing your yard.

How to Grow Strawberries

Learn about the various types of strawberries and how to grow them on your own.

How to Winterize Your Roses

Check out these tips to get your roses through the winter unscathed.

Harvesting Pumpkins, Storing Seeds

Check out these tips for harvesting the fruit of pumpkins and storing the seeds.

The Right Time for Tulips

Want beautiful flowers in the spring? Plant bulbs in the fall! HGTV Magazine is telling the truth about tulips.

Bring the Garden Indoors by Forcing Tree Branches

Find out how to trick those naked branches into blooming.

How to Pet-Proof Your Garden

Learn how to keep the peace between your garden and pets with these 9 simple tips.

How to Paint the Exterior of a House

HGTV.com walks you through the steps of painting the exterior of a house, from prep work through the finishing touches.

Make a Dessert Basket for Summer Parties

Serve your dessert in style this summer by decorating a wicker or wooden basket.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Fixer Upper

7am | 6c

Fixer Upper

8am | 7c

Fixer Upper

9am | 8c

Fixer Upper

10am | 9c

Fixer Upper

11am | 10c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

House Hunters

1pm | 12c

House Hunters

1:30pm | 12:30c

House Hunters

2:30pm | 1:30c

House Hunters

3:30pm | 2:30c

House Hunters

4:30pm | 3:30c

House Hunters

5:30pm | 4:30c

House Hunters

6:30pm | 5:30c

House Hunters

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

8pm | 7c

Beach Hunters

9:30pm | 8:30c

Mexico Life

10pm | 9c

Mexico Life

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

Beach Hunters

12am | 11c

Beach Hunters

12:30am | 11:30c

Mexico Life

1am | 12c

Mexico Life

1:30am | 12:30c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.