How to Build A Rain Barrel

Last night we had an educational workshop on building rain barrels at Painted Turtle Farm, a student-run Certified Naturally Grown garden at Gettysburg College that also hosts a Community Garden and Training Center. For those of you who are interested in learning how to build your own rain barrel, Bill Mooney did a great job demonstrating the following quick and easy techniques.

Supplies needed:IMG_1884

  • A barrel to collect rain water. Make sure that it wasn’t previously used to hold anything toxic.
  • A flexible downspout
  • 3/4″ boiler drain
  • 3/4 ” barb fitting
  • Teflon tape or some type of thread sealant
  • A marker
  • Snips or a saw of some type
  • A drill with a 1 inch bit
  • A pair of pliers
  • Safety glasses and hearing protection


1. Put the flexible downspout where you’d like it to go on top of the rain barrel IMG_1828and trace the hole to be cut with marker.

2. Wearing safety glasses, cut the hole on top of the barrel with a snips or some type of saw – a few options would be the reciprocating saw (what Bill IMG_1811used), hand saw, rotary cutter etc.

3. Drill a 1 inch hole at the bottom of the barrel for the drain (on the opposite side of where the downspout goes, This allows easy access if the rain IMG_1815barrel is placed against a building) with a hole saw or drill bit.

4. Then drill a 1 inch hole at the top of the barrel for the overflow. This can be drilled at 90 degrees from the downspout or drain.

5. Put thread sealant or Teflon tape on the drain and on the overflow fitting.

6. Then screw in the drain and overflow pipe. IMG_1849

7. Place the barrel where it’s intended to go, elevating it with bricks or concrete or wood blocks to make the drain more accessible.

8. Use a hack saw to cut the gutter and connect the flexible downspout to the gutter. Place the downspout in the barrel (the hole you cut in step 2).

9. Then connect a hose to the overflow fitting and divert it away from the house.

10. . . . And Voila! Now you just have to wait for it to rain 🙂

2 Comments Add yours

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