Introduction: Rain Barrel for Garden Watering

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The purpose of this project is to collect rainwater into barrels to be used at a later time to water the garden/grass.


I spent a lot of time looking at different designs, how people built them from very easy setups (1 barrel) to multiple barrels (6+). The most important thing to note is that if you are going to use this for a garden, ensure that you get barrels that are food grade safe. Sometimes these barrels are used for chemicals which can kill your garden, or be absorbed and ingested (if you are growing food - like I am)


After obtaining your rain barrel(s) make sure that you take some time to clean it. Mine used to hold soy sauce (it stinks!)

Step 1: Required Parts

Here are the parts that I used:

2 x 55 gallon food grade safe barrels

2 x 2" DWV MIP Adapter

2 x 2" DWV Street Elbow 90 degree Spigot x Hub

1 x 2" PVC Pipe 8 feet

2 x 2" PVC Tee (t section = 1 1/2" opening)

2 x 1-1/2" x 3/4" PVC Schedule 40 Bushing Spigot x FIPT

2 x 3/4" Short Galvanized Nipple

2 x 3/4" PVC Ball Valve

2 x 3/4" MPT x 3/4" MHT adapter with red valve

1 x Plumber putty

1 x 8 feet downspout extension

1 x downspout adapter with twist on (Connects downspout to extension)

Lots of extra garden bricks

Tools Used:


Utility knife

Drill bits


measuring tape

Step 2: Building the Valve

I chose to go with a 2 valve approach as I will be leaving one connected permanently to a hose, and wanted to have the option of filling up jugs, water guns, etc without having to disconnect the hose.

1. Screw the 3/4" MPT x MHT adapter into one end of the threaded valve.

2. Screw the 3/4" nipple into the other end of the threaded valve.

3. Screw the other end of the nipple into the 3/4" PVC Schedule 40 Bushing Spigot x FIPT

4. Insert the assembled parts into the 1 1/2" section of the PVC Tee.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 for second valve

6. Cut a piece of PVC tube

7. Connect valves together with PVC tube

Step 3: Connecting Valves and Barrels Together

1. unscrew one of the bung holes in each barrel

2. screw in DWV MIP Adapter into the bung hole

3. Connect elbow to the DWV MIP Adapter

4. Connect assembled valve piece (from previous step) to the elbows to join the barrels together

I connected this upside down to make it easier to see what it looks like when it is connected. Ideally, this will be done after placing the barrels in place.

Step 4: Building the Platform

There are lots of different ways to build a platform for these. You want to make sure that the barrels are high enough that gravity will do its magic to help keep the pressure up. My deck is already off the ground high enough that it is above my garden, however, I used some extra garden brick to hold them in place. I placed the bricks by the downspout and made sure that it was big enough to support the barrels and the weight of the water.

Note: This is not my final placement. I am planning on redoing my deck in the next couple of months or so, and will be redoing this part. My plan is to build a wooden platform and put up walls around it to hide the barrels (ideally will look like a small shed on my deck)

Step 5: Connecting Downspout to Barrels

1. Determine where you will place the hole in the barrel

- I did this by simply doing a mock up of how I would like it and then made a note of where to drill

2. Using a drill, drill a hole into the barrel

3. I did not have the right size bit, so I drilled a couple holes and used a utility knife to shave the edges to make it fit

4. Using some force and a screwdriver, I connected the downspout extension into the hole that I just drilled

5. Determined where I would cut into the downspout

6. Using the hacksaw, cut out a section of the downspout

7. Connect other end of extension to the downspout

8. Using zipties to secure extension to the downspout

Step 6: Overflow and Pressure Holes

It is important to consider what to do if you have too much water.

To overcome this, I drilled out a small hole on the side of the barrel that will act as an overflow. I will be connecting some tubing to this and running it away from the house to the grass.

Using a small drill bit, I drilled several small holes near the top of the barrels to allow air flow in and out to help with the pressure

Step 7: Water Test

This is a must do!

Once you have everything assembled, you want to make sure that there are no leaks, otherwise you will not benefit from this. I simply stuck a hose in the overflow hole and started to fill up the barrels. I did notice a small leak where one of the bung holes connects with the DWV MIP Adapter. To overcome this, I used plumbers putty around the hole.

After doing this, retested the water and it is all sealed now.

Step 8: Enjoy Free Water!

Now that everything is tested and connected and working properly I can now begin to collect rain to water my garden.

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