Skip to main content

Save money on your water bill: How to make a rain barrel

Tips for setting up a rain barrel in your yard or garden

Gardening is a soothing hobby, but it can also put stress on your wallet. While many gardening practices are meant to help you save money by growing your own food, all those plants still need to be watered, leading to a higher water bill. You can lessen it by growing a drought-tolerant garden, but what if the plants you want to grow simply aren’t the drought-tolerant types?

Installing a rain barrel and collecting rainwater for later use is an easy way to water your garden without impacting your wallet. Here’s how to get started!

Related Videos




1 hour 30 minutes

What You Need

  • Large solid barrel with a lid and spigot

  • Bricks, flat stones, or cinder blocks

  • Saw

  • Flexible elbow pipe

A rain barrel next to purple flowers

What are the benefits of a rain barrel?

Rain barrels aid in water conservation efforts, since you’re using stored rainwater rather than tap water. This lowers your water bill, but it’s also good for the environment. Tap water comes from lakes, rivers, groundwater, and reservoirs, which can drain quickly during a drought.

Using rainwater relieves stress on these water systems. Rain barrels require no electricity or chemicals, so they’re eco-friendly, and they allow you to care for plants in droughts.

A garden shed with a green rain barrel

How to set up a rain barrel

There are a few different kinds of rain barrels and rainwater collection systems, but here is how to set up the simplest one:

Step 1: Choose a large, solid barrel.

Plastic barrels are popular, as they are lightweight, easy to find, less expensive, and easy to modify. You can also find a barrel specifically made to be a rainwater barrel at many hardware or home improvement stores.

Step 2: Add a lid and a spigot or tap on your barrel.

Lids help keep mosquitoes and debris out and can be a screen or solid type. A spigot or tap helps you fill buckets more easily for watering cans. However, you can always choose to remove the lid and fill your containers by dipping them instead.

Step 3: Choose a location with relatively flat ground that is in front of a downspout and that is near where you will be using the water.

Step 4: Elevate the rain barrel using bricks, flat stones, or cinder blocks.

This gives the barrel stability, helps with water pressure, and gives you easier access to the collected water. Make sure the rain barrel is as close to the downspout as possible.

Step 5: Measure where the rain barrel comes to on the downspout, marking the place.

Step 6: Cut the downspout where you marked using a saw, removing everything below the mark.

Don’t discard the section you remove! When the rain barrel isn’t in use, you can replace it to keep the downspout functional.

Step 7: Attach a flexible elbow to the downspout, angling it to direct water into the rain barrel.

Rain barrels are useful tools that help you conserve water. Whether your interest is in reducing your water bill, helping your garden through a drought, being more eco-friendly, or a mixture of all three, setting up a rain barrel can help. This relatively simple tool can have a big impact!

Editors' Recommendations

Real vs. fake Christmas trees: Which is friendlier to the environment?
Benefits and disadvantages of real and fake Christmas trees
Three little fake Christmas trees

It seems like every other year, we get bombarded with propaganda about how real Christmas trees are bad for the environment and why everyone should buy fake trees. Then the next year, it's the opposite! So what's the deal regarding the real vs. fake Christmas tree debate? Which one is actually more eco-friendly? Here, we'll talk about the effects that fake and real trees have on the environment and which one you should choose based on facts, not trends.

How do fake Christmas trees impact the environment?
It may seem at first like investing in a fake Christmas tree would be better for the environment in the long run. You'll buy the tree, pack it up at the end of the season, and reuse it next year and maybe for years to come. However, 10 million artificial trees are purchased by Americans every season, and most of those trees are imported from China. This means that they increase carbon emissions and use up a lot of resources to get here. Most of these trees are also not recyclable or biodegradable, so they'll end up in a landfill somewhere where they could take decades to break down.

Read more
Indoor gardening: Hydroponics growing tips for any plant
Start your hydroponic garden with these tips
Cilantro grown hydroponically

Hydroponic gardening is a unique and interesting process. It flips the script on so much of what's considered traditional or standard about gardening, and having a hydroponic garden is an immediate conversation starter. It looks impressive, but that also means it can be intimidating to start.

If you want to garden all year round, though, then nothing should stand in your way. Let’s break down the process of how to start a hydroponic garden! We've got everything you need to know to get started on your very own hydroponic garden. From the first steps of planning all the way to harvesting, here's what you need to know.

Read more
How to grow orchids in water for an exotic and beautiful display
Growing orchids in water is easy: What you need to know
Purple orchid flowers with white stripes

Orchids and hydroponics are both words that sound… intimidating. Orchids have a reputation for being fussy and difficult to grow, while hydroponics sounds complicated and technical. The secret is that neither is actually too difficult, and when you combine orchids with hydroponics, wonderful things can happen. Some gardeners even have an easier time growing orchids in water than in soil! Here's everything you need to know to see for yourself.

Read more