Choosing a Rain Barrel

We’ve been in this house for about a year and a half now. In the first year, we installed raised beds for vegetable gardening, built a compost bin and planted fruit and nut trees. The next major outdoor project on the docket is water conservation. We’d like to get a couple of rain barrels installed in order to water our plants with rain water. Not only will this conserve water, but it will also lower our water bill a bit since we’re on town water lines. Can’t go wrong with that!

There are a couple of considerations to choosing a rain barrel – capacity, fittings and style. Most rain barrels are going to be a 55 gallon capacity, which is plenty of room for water storage in temperate climates with average rain fall. Fittings are pretty straightforward – there is a connection point from the downspout the barrel, and overflow mechanism and a spout. You’ll also want a stand of some sort in order to elevate the barrel to get enough pressure to hook up a garden hose or irrigation line to it, since there are no pumps in rain barrels. Style is also a big factor in choosing one, since they’re prominently located at the corner of your home – especially if you want to site it in the front yard. It’s very easy to incorporate a planter into the design of most barrels as well. Gardener’s Supply Company sells a beautiful urn-style barrel with a planter in the top –

barrel with flowers

There are also some rectangular ones on the market. This one from Rain Chains would look great in a front yard –


You can also get really creative and DIY a metal stock tank barrel following the tutorial posted by The Bicycle Gardener –


As it stands, we’ll probably DIY our own version using a reclaimed food-grade barrel, following the instructions posted by This Old House on how to build a rain a barrel. If we get a good deal on a barrel, we’ll be able to make one for around $40!