I got the urge a year or so ago to take some classes through Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to learn more ways to be self sustaining. The first class I took was on making rain barrels and since then have made several more with a friend. I only have one at my current house and plan on making several more this Spring. This is a great way to provide rain for your gardens and plants. Rain barrels fill very quickly and are very helpful during droughts. Purchasing rain barrels can be very expensive but making them is pretty easy, fun and can be done cheaply. It is important to use food grade barrels when building rain barrels due to leaching in the soil and plant.

The class was a lot of fun but I really enjoyed spending time with my friend and making several at a time (I think we cranked out six or so one evening while I was hanging out in Oklahoma). Let's get started!

The class was a lot of fun but I really enjoyed spending time with my friend and making several at a time (I think we cranked out six or so one evening while I was hanging out in Oklahoma). Let's get started!

SUPPLIES:

  • 55-gallon food grade drum
  • 1" wood bit
  • 2" wood bit
  • electric drill
  • box cutter or Exacto knife
  • caulk
  • PVC cement
  • mosquito netting
  • 3/4" hose bib spigot
  • 3/4" washer (for back of spigot)
  • 3/4" grey elbow piece (overflow valve)
  • cleaning rags
  • any type of cleaner

THE PROCESS

Check out the photos below for a visual aide of building your rain barrel.

Step 1: Start by unscrewing the top off of the 55-gallon drum. Using the rag and cleaner, thoroughly clean and dry the inside of the drum. If you get a drum without a removable lid, clean it with a power washer through the opening to remove any existing residue.

Step 2: Begin by making holes in the lid of your drum using the drill and 2" wood bit. Make anywhere from five (5) to eight (8) holes in the lid. 

Step 3: Next, using the 1" wood bit, drill a hole in the bottom of the barrel about 3" to 5" from the bottom. You don't want to do it to high because you won't get the right pressure.

Step 4: Screw the spigot into the hole, about half way. 

Step 5: Cover the exposed threads of the spigot with the PVC cement and screw the spigot in completely. Put the washer on the spigot from the inside of the barrel. Use a small bit of caulk around the outside edge to ensure no leaking.

Step 6: Using the 1" wood bit, drill a second hole in the side of the barrel for water overflow. Position this hole above your desired water level for a full barrel of water. When selecting the location for this hole, consider what direction you want the water to flow and if you will be connecting multiple rain barrels.

Step 7: Attach the grey elbow securely into the side hole using the same process for the spigot.

Step 8: Place a sheet of mosquito netting over the top of the barrel, extending about 7 inches over the rim, around the entire diameter. The screen is necessary to filter out debris coming into the barrel and to keep flies and mosquitos from laying eggs in the stagnate water.

Step 9: Screw the lid back onto the top of the barrel, with the mesh screen locked between the lid rim and the barrel. Using the box cutter, cut any excess screen from around the barrel rim.

Step 10: Set the barrel on the prepared site (this will be in an upcoming blog, so stay tuned!)

I hope you find the time to make yourself some rain barrels. Your barrels can be painted to match your house or use your creativity and go wild!

Step 1: Clean Barrel

Step 2: Drill holes in lid

Step 3: Drill bottom hole

Step 4: Insert spigot part way

Step 5: Secure spigot with washer

 

Step 6 & 7: Drill overflow hole/attach elbow

Step 8: Attach mosquito netting

Step 9: Trim netting

Finished rain barrel