Posted by: cosmicgarden | April 14, 2012

Do-It-Yourself Rain Barrel | Ottawa Horticultural Society


Do-It-Yourself Rain Barrel

Web By: Peter Wood print friendly version If you are the least bit handy, this gardening project can be done in about one hour. The end result is a rain barrel comparable to a store bought model at a much cheaper price.

Basic Supplies:

(published in 2002)

  • 45 gallon plastic barrel (I purchased mine at Preston Hardware for $13.00)
  • 1 plumbing tap – make sure the inside end is threaded so when you drill through the barrel for the tap you can put a washer and nut on the inside of the tap so water won’t leak out (I bought a plastic tap and threaded washer at Preston Hardware for $13.00 which did the job)
  • 1 ABS 1 1/2 x 1 1/4 male threaded adapter. (Part Number 39923 19466 from Home Depot; cost $1.48)
  • 1 ABS 1 1/4 female threaded right angle adapter. (Part Number 066837816047 from Home Depot; cost $2.68)
  • 1 hose clamp (Part Number 0020637251071 from Home Depot; cost $0.98)
  • 1 8 foot length of sump pump flexible hose 1 1/4" inside diameter. (This is sold at Home Depot, Canadian Tire, or Preston Hardware, usually in 24 foot lengths)
  • 1 or 2 sections of curved elbow down spout. (This is sold at any hardware store or lumber yard which sells eaves troughing)
  • 2 concrete blocks and 1 concrete patio stone 18" x 18"
  • Misc. self tapping screws 3/4" long
  • Wire mesh or screen for the top.
  • 4 #8 bolts 3/4" long with nuts and washers

Tools required:

  • 1 electric drill, 3/4" wood drill bit, and 1 1/4" hole saw attachment
  • Dremel tool or tin snips for cutting the down pipe
  • Dremel tool or key hole saw for cutting the top of the rain barrel
  • screw driver


  1. Select your location for the rain barrel and make sure it is level or sloping slightly away from the house. Put the rain barrel on the stand made up of the two concrete blocks and the concrete patio stone. It should have enough height so you will be able to place your watering can under the tap.
  2. With the barrel in place mark the down pipe for cutting. It should be 12 inches above the top of the barrel.
  3. Drill a 3/4" hole 3 inches above the bottom of the barrel for placement of the drain tap. Insert the tap and put the washer and nut on the tap threads inside the barrel. I tightened it hand tight. You may want to add some sealant such as caulking to the threads to prevent leaks.
  4. Take the lid off the barrel and cut a large hole in the lid using either a Dremel tool with a cutting blade or the keyhole saw.  Cover the hole with wire mesh using the bolts and washers to secure it to the lid.
  5. Using the 1 1/4" hole saw attachment, drill a hole in the top of the barrel for the overflow hole. Push the 1 1/2 -1 1/4" ABS male adapter from the inside of the barrel so the threads are sticking out. Screw the right angle ABS female adapter to it and attach the flexible hose to the female adapter with the hose clamp. This will run off the excess water when the rain barrel is full.
  6. Cut the down pipe at the premarked location using tin snips or the Dremel tool with cutter attachment. Remove and save the bottom piece of the down pipe for replacement in the winter when the barrel is in storage. If the bottom piece has been strapped to your siding, relocate this strap just above where you have cut the pipe.
  7. Attach the down pipe curved elbows so the water is directed into the barrel. Use self tapping screws to ensure the elbow will not detach from the straight downpipe.
  8. Put the lid back on the barrel. The wire mesh insures that small animals & insects will not get in the barrel.
  9. Wait for the rain and then enjoy your barrel.
Winter hint:

According to the Lee Valley Catalogue, water freezing in the barrel over the winter will crack and damage the barrel. Therefore at the end of the season it is wise to drain the barrel and turn it upside down on your stand. Re-assemble the down spout as outlined in step # 6.

Do-It-Yourself Rain Barrel | Ottawa Horticultural Society

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: