How to Make a Rain Barrel (aka garden water butt)

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Rain barrels, or water butts if you drive on the left-hand side of the road, may appear to have a prohibitively high initial cost but will very quickly pay for themselves in water bill savings: lots of homes use small-scale rain barrels to gather relatively small amounts (55 gallons) of water for gardening use instead of using tap water that you have to pay for.

These small rain barrels are usually recycled barrels that were used for whiskey/wine aging or food transport and generally cost very little (around $20). Any such water barrel device has to be built to screen out mosquitoes lest the stagnant water create

breeding grounds for mosquito larvae. I’ve got an awesome video for you here from HGTV that shows you how to make your own rain barrel very simply and entirely from recycled material. First, a few tips:
  • Make sure the barrel you get is a food-quality container that was used only for non-toxic materials, not dangerous chemicals. Also, give it a good washing before you make your rain barrel.
  • Make sure that it’s on an entirely level and strong surface: a full 55 gallon barrel will weigh over 400 pounds.
  • Don’t forget to install a proper screen to filter out leaves and other solids (window screen will work nicely).

Right, here’s what to do:

Additional Resources and Further Reading

If, after seeing this, you’d rather just buy your own, it’ll run you about $100 for the top-recommended (according to a gardener friend of mine) one, the Achla Model RB-01 (55 gallons). If you’d really like to delve much more deeply into doing this, have a look at Rain Gardens: Managing Water Sustainably in the Garden and Designed Landscape by Nigel Dunnett.

Even the State of Florida is getting in on it with their own site called Recycle the Rain, have a look.

This guy who build his own rain barrel has put together a really good site here about his rain barrel project with instructions and pictures here that’s worth a look.

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