Using municipal water to keep your garden and or landscaping properly hydrated is at best inefficient.  The weather is unpredictable; so many people have turned to modern conveniences as an easy and readily available solution.  The amount of energy, resources, and chemicals used in the process of supplying tap water may be acceptable for the purpose of human consumption; however, for watering plants, it’s overkill and downright wasteful.  If your conscience doesn’t motivate you to seek a more natural alternative, perhaps your wallet will.  Potable water scarcity and rising prices are a reality and trending in a bad direction.  For all these reasons, we’ve decided to take a gentle step towards living “off the grid”.

Rain barrels are becoming more readily available at hardware and garden/farm supply stores.  It will return your investment over time by lowered utility bills.  We looked at this as an option, but decided instead to make our own and here’s why: store bought goods consume resources in their manufacture and to transport them to your local retail store.  Why not repurpose local, previously manufactured materials to achieve the same goal?  You’ll reduce irrigation, resource consumption, and transportation waste, as well as save perfectly good products from a landfill.  As an additional benefit, this method is more cost effective than a store bought rain barrel.  We’ll detail how you can make your own rain barrels and hopefully get as much satisfaction from them as we have.

Find more articles about sustainable, vegan, and organic gardening at our website: theahimsaproject.com

Step 1: Tools and Materials


55 Gallon Barrel We managed to find some food grade barrels locally for $20 each that had a previous life transporting large quantities of condiments.  Some water and natural cleaning products made it new again.  We bought two for increased storage capacity.  Try to find one with a lid; otherwise you’ll have to make one to keep leaves, debris, and bugs out.
Hose Spigot You can find these at any hardware store for less than $10.  Why not shop your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and give an old spigot new life?  Either way, make sure it fits the hose you’ll be using!
Silicon Sealant These are about $5 for a 9oz tube, which is far more than you’ll need for this project.  We had some already from other household maintenance.
Flexible Downspout $10-$15 at any hardware store, if you get creative and know what you’re doing, you could work with your current downspout.
Stand We used bricks and some wood scraps.

Optional Materials for Connecting Multiple Rain Barrels Together

Small Hose Any hardware store for less than $5.  Three feet should be plenty depending on how you arrange the barrels.
Hose Coupler Any hardware store for about $1. You’ll need two.
20 Gauge Steel Wire You won’t need much, a foot should be plenty.  We had some from putting chicken wire around our vegetable patch.


Drill with a drill bit the same size as the spigot stem (opposite end from where you attach the hose), another drill bit for screws if needed

Jig Saw or reciprocating saw or hand powered alternative.

Adjustable wrench.

Marker or Pen.

Pliers and a wire cutter if you’re connecting multiple rain barrels.

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