Friday, July 17, 2009

Make Your Own Cheap Rain Barrel

***See bottom of entry!!!
If you have ever looked into purchasing a rain barrel you might have been shocked by how much they cost. Granted there are some really beautiful designs out there, but this is an inexpensive rain barrel that handles a majority of my watering needs.

One sturdy 32 gallon trash can with a lid (Mine is made out of recycled plastic and cost only $10 at Walmart.
A piece of porch/window screening *See updates at bottom of entry.
A boxcutter *See updates at bottom of entry.
A staple gun * See updates at bottom of entry.

Three Easy Steps---Less than 10 minutes to assemble!
1. Cut out a large hole from the center of the lid. If you are having a gutter lead directly to the can, cut the hole to the appropriate size.
2. Use the staple gun to cover the hole with the screening on the inside of the lid. Staple every inch or two so that small insects or rodents can't enter the barrel. (You may want to bend down the staples on the reverse side of the lid if possible. I have to admit that I didn't and have no problem with leaving them the way they are).
3. You're done.

The screen will keep animals, bugs, and debris out of the water. The inverted lid will act as a funnel to direct the water into the barrel. You could even install a short hose at the top of the barrel to handle any overflow so it is directed away from your foundation. I didn't though. I just made sure that the barrel slightly leaned away from the house. Not enough for it to ever tip over or to put too much uneven water pressure on the sides. Just enough for water to spill out the far side away from the house. Be sure to bring your barrel in before winter freezes though. The water will expand as it freezes and damage the barrel.

This barrel has met almost all of my watering needs this season. It is easy to lift off the lid to dunk my watering can and to brush away any debris from the screen. Just beware that the staples stick out of the opposite side (you can bend them down if you want). Also, you could paint and decorate your barrel to make it blend into your landscape.

Side Note: If small children have access to your barrel, strap down the lid.

***UPDATE: Instead of cutting a hole in the lid and adding mesh, do the following!!! So simple!!! Place the lid on the trashcan upside down. Drill small holes all over the lid. Large debris will not be able to enter. Keep the holes tiny so mosquitoes can't enter and lay eggs in the water. Just clean off any leaves or accumulations from the lid from time to time. Store indoors in winter, and strap down the lid if you have small children in the area.


  1. hi Kim, thanks for posting about the Rain Barrel, it's a great idea and I'm going to use it...I've been eyeing one for $75. that was over my budget, for gardening..this idea will work for me..Thanks for posting..Ginny

  2. I love mine. I've had it for several seasons now. I just have to remember to bring mine in before the temps drop below freezing. The water inside would freeze, expand, and most likely crack the barrel. This design may not be gorgeous, but it is cheap and works well for me.