Frugal Rain Barrel

A rain barrel is a simple and economical way to improve the health of your garden.

Creating a frugal rain barrel is a great way to save money while doing your part to conserve our planet's natural resources.

What is a Rain Barrel?

Essentially, a rain barrel is a large container that is used for catching rainwater. Since a quarter-inch of rain can yield more than 200 gallons of water, you can fill a rain barrel within a matter of minutes during a heavy rain. This makes a rain barrel a fast and effective alternative water source.

There are three main reasons people use rain barrels:

  • Since rainwater is naturally soft water with no minerals, chlorine, fluoride, or other chemicals, it's great for your garden and outdoor landscaping projects.
  • Rainwater is economical. The water you collect in your rain barrel is a free resource that can drastically reduce your monthly water bill. In fact, some studies have indicated that the average homeowner can attribute up to 40 percent of his or her total water consumption to the yard and garden.
  • Using rainwater is an environmentally-friendly conservation strategy. Freshwater is a limited natural resource, so using a rain barrel is a smart way to minimize your impact on municipal water supplies.

Regardless of what type of rain barrel you use, it's normal to experience a small degree of contamination from dirt, dust, leaves, and other debris. For this reason, you shouldn't use water collected in a rain barrel for drinking or cooking without investing in a high-quality filtration system.

Making Your Own Frugal Rain Barrel

Although it's possible to purchase a rain barrel from any large garden center, making your own is a thrifty alternative. A rain barrel can cost between $100 and $300 in some areas, but you can make your own for substantially less. In fact, some municipal governments even offer free rain barrel kits for local residents.

To make your own frugal rain barrel, you will need a large food-grade container that is suitable for storing liquids and an assortment of PVC pipe fittings. A plastic container is preferred since it will not rust. It may seem like a good idea to cut costs by using a trash can, but this type of container will eventually start to crack from the pressure of the liquid.

For detailed instructions on how to make your own rain barrel, check out the article, Make Your Own Rain Barrel. If your rain barrel will be stored in a highly visible location, you may want to consider painting a decorative design on the rain barrel. Flowers, butterflies, and simple geometric patterns are a good choice. Visit Aaron's Rain Barrels and More for instructions on how to use Krylon Fusion Paint to decorate your rain barrel.

Safety Considerations

Although frugal rain barrels are relatively easy to make, there are a few important safety considerations to keep in mind. For example:

  • To avoid tipping, place the rain barrel on stable and level ground.
  • Cover the barrel with a screen or small top to keep away wild animals.
  • If you have small children, store the rain barrel in a place that is not easily accessible. It is possible for a child to drown in only a few inches of water.
  • Make sure the rain barrel is emptied on a weekly basis. Standing water is an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes that can spread the West Nile virus. Also consider a fine mesh screen to cover the barrel and keep mosquitoes out.
  • Clean your roof regularly to reduce the level of contaminants in your rainwater.
  • Disconnect your rain barrel in the winter if you live in an area where temperatures are regularly below freezing.

Additional LoveToKnow Resources

  • LoveToKnow Garden is your source for information on how to select, grow, and care for the flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs in your garden.
  • LoveToKnow Organic has an assortment of tips on organic farming and gardening.
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Frugal Rain Barrel