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If you have a gutters on your house and want an inexpensive way to start using rainwater for your landscaping needs, rain barrels are a good way to go. We do not recommend using rain barrels for potable (drinking water) systems.

What you need to get started:
  • Barrel and fittings
  • Diverter or another mechanism to get water into the barrel from the gutter
  • Gravity or a pump for retrieving the water from the barrel
  • Screening on both overflow and entry point to keep mosquitoes out. Window screening is small enough. If you are using drip irrigation, we recommend using a .5 millimeter screen to filter out debris.
  • Hose for overflow outlet
  • Mosquito donuts (optional – the screen should be enough to keep mosquitoes out)

  • What to look for in a barrel:
  • Barrel should be a dark color to keep light out and prevent
  • algae growth; we recommend painting the barrel if it is made of polyethylene
  • If choosing a recycled barrel, use food-grade barrels or barrels that have not been used to store chemicals
  • Screw-on or locking lid to protect from insects and to prevent children from falling in
  • Even though they are cheaper, we do not recommend "tight-head" barrels which do not have removable lids because you cannot clean the inside of the barrel
  • Intake fitting (for closed/lidded barrel)
  • Overflow and hose bib fittings
  • Hose bib – should be above the bottom of the barrel to prevent sediment from clogging the spigot
  • Drain plug (optional)
  • A 55 gallon barrel is approximately 3 feet high by 2 feet in diameter

  • Approximate Costs (not including pump, tax and shipping):
  • New completely outfitted rain barrels run from $80 – $400
  • Recycled food-grade barrels with no fittings start at $20
  • Recycled food-grade barrels with fittings start at $40

  • Installation Tips: (not intended to replace manufacturer instructions)
  • Position barrel near a down spout
  • Make sure barrel is level
  • Barrel should be higher than your intended use area or you will need a pump to deliver water to the area; barrel can be elevated on concrete blocks
  • Connect the down spout to the rain barrel using a diverter or redirector

  • Maintenance:
  • Clean the barrels out once a year after the growing season
  • If you live in a cold climate, either do not collect rain during the winter or follow manufacturer’s recommendations

  • Other Tips:
  • You can link barrels together for more storage; make sure the barrels’ overflow outlets are at the same height
  • Direct the overflow fitting away from the foundation with a 6 foot length of hose
  • Use bleach at ¼ cup to a barrel if the barrel starts to give off an odor

  • Rain Barrel Sources:
    Source Comments New barrels only New barrels only
    Dallas, TX 214-819-9500
    New and recycled barrels
    Tanks Alot San Antonio, TX
    New barrels only San Antonio, TX 210-534-5416 New and recycled barrels - some with fittings; will add fittings to your specifications

    For more information on rain barrel costs and features, click here.

    Rain Barrel Images:
    Image courtesy of Rain Barrel Source    Image courtesy of Clean Air Gardening
    Image courtesy of Dave the Barrel Man

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