DIY / Water

Make A Home for your Rain Barrel

Learn the best way to place your rain barrel before connecting it to your downspout.

Make A Home for your Rain Barrel
Scott Sporleder, Photographer

Congratulations! You have a 55 gallon rain barrel. Now, where should you install it?

With your new 55 gallon rain barrel, I’m sure you’re anxious to start harvesting the rain. Don’t let the question of “where should I put my barrel?” get between you and an abundant supply of nutrient dense water for your plants.

Proper placement of your barrel is important. It ensures that you maximize your barrel in terms of both aesthetics and function. For some of you, determining where to position your barrel will be easy, for example, if you have only one downspout, or very limited free space in your yard. For others, the options on where to place your barrel could seem infinite.

Rain Barrels can be picked up at our Tools For Change Shop.

Materials needed:
  • 55 gallon rain barrel
  • Bricks, cinder blocks, wood stand etc.
  • Tie-down straps (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Choose a downspout—Explore the outside of your home to determine where, if any, the downspout(s) is located. Larger homes and apartment complexes will typically have more than one. Once located, there are a few questions to ask before you choose which downspout to place your barrel underneath: What is the potential harvest off this particular section of roof? This is easy to determine using the resource linked below. How easy will it be access your barrel? Is it near or far to the garden? Is it blocking a walkway that people or trashcans regularly move through?
  2. Build the foundation—Once you’ve chosen a downspout, you’re ready to build the foundation for your barrel. Make sure the ground is solid and level. If the area is concrete or asphalt, you should be good to go! If it’s comprised of dirt, consider using bricks, pavers, tiles, broken concrete, or whatever you have to provide a solid base. If you place your barrel onto bare dirt, it could shift and become unstable when it rains.
  3. Make a stand—Now, you need a stand. Why a stand? The purpose of a stand is two parts. One, is to provide easy access for a watering can, or female hose end, to the barrel spigot. Two, is to lift the barrel off the ground just enough in order to use the force of gravity for water pressure. The last thing you want is a 55 gallon barrel, full of rain water, with no way to access it! Use what you have to make a stand. Get creative! Stack cinder blocks or bricks, or build a simple wooden stand. If building your own stand, keep in mind the weight of a full barrel (55 gallons at 8 pounds/gallon = 440 pounds plus a few). You can research online how to build a simple bench seat with a few nails and 4×4‘s boards.
  4. Install—Now that you’re barrel is beneath and downspout and above solid ground, you’re ready to install. Follow the instructions linked below if you need some installation tips. For a smaller tank of this size, securing it to your home isn’t necessary. At the same time, 440 pounds of water could easily fall and injure someone or something during an earthquake. If this is a concern, use a tie-down strap or rope to secure it to your home.