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How to Set up Rain Collection Barrels

Creating a rain collection system on your property is a super simple, cost effective, and environmentally friendly project you can get done in a day (for years of use!). While there are plenty of more sophisticated rain collection systems out there, we’re sharing our tips for a simple system that uses gravity, a barrel, and a pump to get the job done.

Getting Started

What do you use rain collection water for?

Keep your outdoor garden, indoor plants, landscaping, and grass happy and healthy through the summer months with water you’ve collected in your rain barrels.

Where should you place your rain barrel?

The best (and easiest) spot for rain barrels to go is near a gutter or downspout on your home. The runoff can go directly into the barrel and most often than not, gives you a level spot to secure your barrel.

How far off the ground should my rain barrels be?

Place your rain barrels at least a foot off the ground (you can use cinder blocks or any other durable, weather-safe platform. This way you can fit a watering can underneath the spigot or give a hose downward pressure to get the water moving from the barrel to the hose.

Barrel (or Tank) Types


Beloved for their classic, goes-with-anything aesthetic that looks nice in the garden. Because it is a natural material, wood barrels are a bit harder to find and will be more expensive than plastic or metal barrels.

Purchase at Amazon


The most affordable, widely available option. Can find at most garden centers in a few different sizes.

Purchase at Home Depot


In some spots, you can find recycled metal drums repurposed as a rain barrel. Easy to keep clean and sterile and durable. Will probably be quite hot in the summer months if its in an area exposed to the sun.

Purchase at Home Depot

Barrel Accessories


This is where you connect a hose to get the water out of the barrel.


If your barrel is at a higher level than your lawn or garden, you should be able to use gravity to get the water through the hose. However, if you want to use the water further away from the barrel or at an elevation higher than the barrel, you’ll need a pump to force pressure through the hose.


There are a number of effective and relatively affordable pumps on the market. Just be sure to choose one with the horsepower and flow rate you’ll need to cover the areas you’d like to water using your rain collection barrel.

2 Types of Pumps

Jet: Pulls the water out. Connected to the barrel by a hose and sits outside the barrel. Durable and affordable. 

Submersible: Pushes the water up. Sits inside the barrel itself which both protects it and makes your setup look sleeker. Requires less maintenance.


Drain before Rain

If you can, drain your rain barrels before a storm or extended period of rain. This ensures you’re getting the most from your barrels and helps avoid stagnant water.

Get a Screen or Cover

1) to stop mosquitoes from breeding and 2) to keep other critters, branches, bugs, and other debris out of your rain barrel.

Secure Your Barrel

Use straps and/or a foundation to secure your barrel to a structure and/or the ground once you have it in place.

Disconnect in the Winter

Winterize your rain barrels from first frost to last frost. This means removing it from any downspouts, emptying the contents, cleaning the exterior and interior, and storing it securely upside down.

Clean and Green

You’ll also want to clean your rain barrels before first use again in the spring. You can use hot, soapy water to clean, the same as you would your dishes. Just make sure the soap you use is non-toxic and food safe.

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