DIY Rain Barrel & Stand for $50
Updated: Oct 21, 2022
I live in Portland, Oregon, where it rains A LOT. Keeping water away from the house is a major concern, especially if you've got grading or landscaping that makes it more difficult. I had a large garden in my backyard, and within that garden, I created a rain garden. I routed the downspout into that rain garden for easy water management.
Unfortunately, that garden became overrun by invasive, persistent grass and needed to be removed and covered to kill the grass.
This created a problem with the downspout. The area was covered in layers of cardboard and plastic and then gravel, rocks, and mulch - i.e., not ideal for water containment. Plus, the grading slanted toward the house a little. It was nearing the end of summer and entering the many months of rain. I realized that the quickest and easiest solution would be to contain and then re-route the water via a rain barrel. I began researching rain barrels and found that they seemed overly expensive, prone to cracking, somewhat fussy, and difficult to maintain. The cheapest one I found was $80, and it looked challenging to clean given its tall body and small lid. Plus, it didn't include a stand, which is a crucial part of the rain barrel system.
What about a garbage can? I began Googling garbage can rain barrels and JACKPOT! I came across the perfect solution at the website Just Measuring Up. The design looked easy to build, and I already had many of the materials and tools necessary. This is also why it cost me $50 but may cost you more if you need to purchase lumber for the stand, tools, etc.
The one difference is that I was planning to connect it to a downspout, and the example was just for collecting rainwater to service a garden far from the house. Not a problem, I would make the following modifications:
1) Get a bigger garbage can - They used a 20 gallon can, and I used a 32 gallon can. If you're planning to connect to a downspout, I wouldn't get smaller than a 32 gallon can. I was stunned at how much water you can collect even from a light rain.
2) Create more drain holes in the lid - They drilled 5 holes, and I drilled 8 holes. I don't know if this was necessary, but I figured it couldn't hurt, and it's working beautifully.
3) Use rocks and mini-bungee to secure downspout - You can see this in my photos and video. I used a mini-bungee to attach the downspout to the barrel and used rocks to keep the downspout aligned with the drainage holes. I also added the gravel to stop splashing, although I don't know if it's doing anything. It looks nice.
Other than that, I followed the instructions to the letter.
I purchased the Rain Barrel Spigot from Amazon. I bought the garbage can, waterproof tape, and hole saw at Lowes. I already had the bungees, screen material, and lumber. From my research, even if you had to buy all of the materials, it would still be cheaper than most rain barrels.
I keep a hose permanently connected to the downspout, and it automatically diverts the water away from the house. During the rainy season, I will keep the hose system in place. Once the rain becomes more sporadic, I will begin collecting the rain to water the plants.
This was a fun DIY project that has proved very useful.
Please let me know if you have any questions.