Skip the Work
Many suppliers sell ready-to-go rain barrels that are already cut. Simply connect the downspout to the lid and you’re all set.
Watch the Video
Watch this short video on making your own rain barrel from a food-quality container.
Created by Hillsborough County
Download or Order the Publication
This 28-page homeowner's guide explains harvesting rainwater by using a small rain barrel. Harvesting rainwater allows you to supplement other irrigation sources at a minimal cost.
Created by the Hillsborough County Water Department and funded by the District
Building Your Own Rain Barrel
Decide where to place the barrel — many people put them under a downspout for easy attachment. Also consider the distance to your plants, gardens and flower beds.
If you don't have gutters, put the barrel under a valley in the roof that sheds a lot of water. Be sure to put a screen over the open barrel to keep out debris, small animals and insects. This will take a lot longer to fill, but may be more practical for your location.
Step 1. Clean the barrel
Use food-quality containers, not ones that held harsh chemicals. Rinse the inside of the barrel with a mixture of 1/8 cup of bleach and 5 gallons of water to wash away food or juice remnants.
Step 2. Install a hose spigot
To install a 3/4" hose spigot, drill a 15/16" hole for the spigot threading just a few inches from the bottom of the barrel. This will provide a few inches of clearance for attaching a hose or filling a watering can and will allow for debris to settle below the outlet to reduce clogging.
Step 3. Build a platform
Concrete cinder blocks provide a strong, stable and level platform for your rain barrel. If you use more than one layer of blocks, stack them in a crisscross pattern so they won't tip over.
Step 4. Connect downspout to barrel
Position the barrel at its set height and measure where you need to cut or disconnect your downspout. Often you can disassemble the downspout at the gutter by taking out screws or drilling out rivets. If you do have to cut it off, use a fine-toothed hacksaw blade or tin snips.
A flexible downspout extender makes an easy transition from the downspout to your barrel lid and eliminates the need for exact measurement because it bends and stretches to the length you need.
Step 5. Cut barrel opening
Place the downspout connection in the barrel. If your barrel comes with a lid, or if it has a sealed top, you will need to cut a hole in it.
Overflows and Multiple Barrels
You may want to connect an overflow pipe or link multiple barrels together. An overflow pipe will carry excess water that would normally overflow the barrel to another part of the yard or into another rain barrel. This is a great way to reduce water around the foundation of your house during rain.