Installing a Rain Barrel

See how adding a rain barrel can help conserve water and keep your plants happy through the hot summer months.

Step 9: Test the Rain Barrel

Step 9: Test the Rain Barrel

Ensure the rain barrel is working properly by checking it after a rain.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

I’m going to just come out and say it: the weather here in Tennessee is completely unreliable. In the summertime we can go weeks without seeing a raindrop only for it to suddenly downpour for an hour before quickly drying up again. Sometimes you can’t even tell it rained. 

Drought-like conditions make it hard on the home gardener. Keeping up with the needs of your precious plants means water, water and more water—and if you’ve gone days without a good rain all that water is coming out of your wallet. 

Dry weather, meet rain barrel. 

Rain barrels collect rainwater from your roof by rerouting a section of your gutter’s downpipe into a nearby reservoir – usually a barrel. They are fairly simple to install and once you have one set up, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates a single 55-gallon rain barrel can save you up to 1,300 gallons of water during the hot summer months. 

Ready to convert? Here are a few tips for installing a rain barrel in your home: 

  • You can buy rain barrel kits from major department stores. They usually run between $75–150.
  • The water “harvested” from a rain barrel may contain harmful chemicals and bacteria from your roof. That means the rainwater isn’t a substitute for drinking water and that it’s best to keep the rainwater out of your vegetable gardens. Note: If you can’t resist using the free water for your produce, water the soil and not the leaves and fruits to avoid contaminating them.
  • Your rain barrel will work better if it is elevated – you can make a stand from cinder blocks or wood pallets.
  • Make sure to routinely disassemble your rain barrel and remove any debris that may build up in the pipes or the barrel. Investing in a filter or screen can help keep it clean longer.
  • The standing water in a rain barrel makes attractive real estate for mosquitoes. A filter can prevent mosquitoes from entering your rain barrel and laying eggs. If you already see mosquitoes in or around the barrel, the addition of a mosquito donut/dunk – a Bti pesticide – kills the larva but leaves water safe to use in your garden.
Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Winterize Your Rain Barrel

Get tips on protecting your rain barrel from damage through the winter months.

Conserve Water With a Rain Barrel

These easy-to-install barrels can save rainwater for your home and garden.


Follow Us Everywhere

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