A rain barrel is an easy way to save water from a rainfall event to water your garden later. You may choose to buy one ready made, or you can make it yourself.
Finding a Barrel
The first step of making a rain barrel is finding the barrel. Some food processing plants will sell them at a reduced cost, however, you will need to call the facilities near you to find them. The barrel must be food grade to avoid contaminating your garden with noxious chemicals. Be sure to rinse your barrel out thoroughly. We were able to secure a plastic, 55-gallon barrel from a local juice plant. If you cannot locate a barrel, you can also use a large garbage can with lid.
Items You Will Need
15/16 Drill bit
All purpose cement
3/4” Hose bibb
Jig or similar saw (optional)
Screen cut to cover top (optional)
Installing the Spigot
The hole for the hose bib should be drilled near the bottom of barrel. It’s often a good idea to mark the spigot location before drilling.
Drill the hole.
You may need to clean up the hole with a knife.
Carefully begin to thread the hose bib onto the hole. Once you have it started, brush the cement on the threads. Now you can finish tightening the hose bib. The seal will be snug to avoid leaking. You may need to sit on the barrel to keep it properly positioned. Be sure the hose bib faces downward once complete.
If you are attaching the rain barrel to your gutter system by hose, the barrel is complete. Just place the hose in one of the pre-cut holes.
Making a Hole for a Downspout
If you intend to place the barrel under a downspout or other area where water collects, you will need to cut a hole in the top.
You can choose to cut half or the entire top off, depending on your needs. Remember to point the saw away from you while cutting to avoid injury.
Keeping Insects Out
To ensure you don’t have mosquitos breeding in your rain barrel, you will need to create a cover. Get some screening large enough to cover the size of the opening with at least two inches extra along the perimeter. Secure it with a bungee cord.
For more information on rain barrels, check out the publication put out by the Southwest Florida Water Management District here.
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