Harvest the Rain With These 4 DIY Rain Barrels

graphic for rain DIY homemade rain barrels
Ramon Gonzalez

Rainwater harvesting relieves our aging sewer systems from the stress of heavy storms while lessening the impact of our garden on our water bills. Whether your interest in rain barrels is because of frugality, or they are environmental, making your own rain barrel is easy.

Here are four examples and instructions for making your own rain barrel.

1. Rubberneck Rain Barrel

rain barrel made from rubberneck trashcan
 Donnie Dillon/Instructables.com/CC BY-NC-SA 2

Instructables user, Donnie Dillon, hacked a trashcan he had in the garage into a rain barrel after a trip to the hardware store that only cost him $38.22 for the materials. The project took less than 2 hours and after he was done, he could harvest rainwater to water his plants and chickens, wash his car and fill up his squirt guns. For walkthrough instructions see his Rubberneck Rain Barrel Instructable.

2. Blue HDPE 55 Gallon Barrel

blue barrel converted into a rain barrel
 stylnpzzalvr / Instructables.com / CC BY-NC-SA 2.

This blue barrel is the most common item converted into a rain barrel. Instructables user, stylnpzzalvr, spent some time creating barrels like these and selling them at farmers' markets for $50. His directions for a homemade rain barrel show you how to create one for $15.00, and offers tips on how to find barrels on the cheap.

3. Wine Barrel Rain Barrel

wine barrel converted into a rain barrel
 Chouf / Instrutables.com / CC BY-SA 2

While functional, blue plastic is not very attractive, and if your rain barrels face the street (or annoying neighbors) something that looks more natural may suit your needs. Wine and whiskey barrels can also be converted into rainfall catchment systems. Chouf, at Instructables, went with the wooden rain barrel for his because he did not want the blue to interfere with the aesthetics of his future deck.

4. Rain Barrel from 330 Gallon Drum

If a 55-gallon drum is too small for your needs, perhaps these 330 gallon drums will be more to your liking. Over the past two years, I have been seeing them used in homes and urban agriculture projects. In the comments of his video Coastguard1010 explains how he fitted the spout of this drum to fit his water hose.

More Homemade Rain Barrel Resources and Guides.

The Whatcom County Extension has PDF guides for a simple rain barrel and an alternative rain barrel that you can load onto your e-reader if you want to have instructions in your hand while building yours. The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting (PDF) is an extensive reference on rainwater collecting but may be useful if you are the kind of person that needs more than a cursory understanding of harvesting rain. Use mosquito dunks to kill mosquitoes to prevent creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.