Rain Barrel?

garden_fever_girl(5 CO)April 7, 2005

I read in a gardening book to collect rain water in buckets for watering instead of using a hose. I'd like to try it this year--especially since we have some tight drought restrictions and I'd like to not be part of the problem in CO but I'm concerned about letting water sit out in a bucket to collect/encourage mosqitos- especially since we are in a region where West Nile is common. Is there a cheap way to create a container to gather water that will also prevent mosqitos from taking up residence?

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:covering the barrel helps...

but 'mosquito dunks' work better. they're not harmful to anything else, and last for like three months (not to mention that you only need 1/3 of a dunk for something the siza of a rain barrel)

I actually use a muck bucket that 'came with the house' as my rain barrel- it's only about 25 gallons, but I'm hoping to attatch it to an aqueduct system that will hold another 50 gallons as it travels to the 'back' half of the yard.

of course, I need to fix the gutters and downspouts before I worry about that ;)

but yes- any rainwater you can collect does double duty- it's better for the plants than city water, it's free...and it lands in the garden, not your foundation ;)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 1:30PM
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What's a mosquito dunk?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 3:36AM
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chuckr30(z5, GR-MI)

A mosquito dunk is a donut shaped thing which is just BT, which is bacillus thuregensis, which kills all aquatic invertebrates (including shrimp, I found out).

You can also make a tub from a large barrel, about 55 gallons. Cut a hole in top, cover hole with window screen (attach it so it doesn't blow off) and let your gutters drain into the screen/hole area.

Put a hose spigot in the bottom, and put the hole barrel up on cement blocks, bricks, or wooden beams.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 12:46PM
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rad_win(z7 Md Baltimore)

Most soda bottling plants have excess 55gallon platic drums, I bought mine from one for 5 dollars.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 4:11PM
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You can buy BT little bags that are much smaller than the doughnuts and work like a charm . I have a 55 gallon drum catching rain water from our steel roof and about once a month I throw a BT bullet in there. Found the BT at my local Tractor Supply store. I added cow manure and now the plants get a little tea while being watered. Amazingly, this concoction does not smell !

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 7:05AM
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mantorvillain(z4bMN Dodge)

I use 2 whiskey barrels with a connecting hose between the 2 to catch a good volume from my roof. I did put a spigot on the lower part of 1 barrel but it does clog often (charcoal residue from the inside of the whiskey barrels).
I'm planning on cutting out most of the top of 1 barrel then putting a screen cover on it so I can just dip with my buckets or watering can.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 9:00PM
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I have 55 gallon plastic barrels (free from soft drink bottling plant) at the end of my downspouts. Half of the top is cut and hinged so it's closed but you can open and look in.

We keep a plain old goldfish in there. They eat any larvae from mosquitos and the algae that forms on the barrel. IN return, they fertilize the garden water.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 10:09PM
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DrynDusty(z8 AZ)

We can get 50 gallon barrel at our local kidney dialysis center (kidney failure due to skyrocketing diabetes and high blood pressure cases here in Navajo Land) They go through a lot of barrels.
By the way, how do you put a spigot in the bottom of a barrel. Most spigots have a nut you must tighten on the inside of the barrel, a reach of about 3 or 4 feet through a tiny little hole. What is the better way?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 10:58PM
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garden_fever_girl(5 CO)

mid tn mama- what a stroke of genius. The perfect natural solution to the problem of how to keep the mosquiotos away!! Do you feed the little guy or just let him fend on what goodies he finds in the bucket?
I'm thinking of using something smaller than a 55 gal drum but I like all the suggestions - think a screen to cover the top seems a good solution and would keep the fishy from leaving if the bucket overflows in a downpour.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 9:40AM
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sunrmsilly(z5 nwIL)

Hey, I like the goldfish idea, too. Could he/she survive on goodies in drum if only fed fish food once a week? Great idea with insect screen cover, too. Does anybody know how long the mosquito dunks are good for? I have some left from last year. They stayed in unheated shed in zone 5 all winter. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 3:25PM
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I have the little BT bags called Plunks. They seem to last forever- mine are from last season and still work fine. We keep fish in our cattle watering tanks- 165 gallon tanks each . No problem with mosquito larvae and we don't feed the fish .

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 6:57AM
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Kenroginski(New Jersey)

Hi, I have a wooden rain barrel. My problem is that I can't find a spigot long enough to extend into the barrel. Any suggestions appreciated. thanks, ken

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 12:30PM
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My aunt keeps guppies in her rain barrel, which live off mosquito larvae. She takes them out of a nearby pond, but they also sell them for pennies at Petco (and female will multiply like rabbits).

I met a woman today working in her yard who invited me to inspect her plastic rain barrels. She had one covered with screen mesh, with a downspout touching but not going through the screen. Another 2 were connected together by a hose for overflow, and in that pair, she had a downspout going actually into the barrel through a hole. These were all green plastic which she purchased mail order through gardener's supply.

Of course, your suggestions above are all much more economical. (She said the one with the screen mesh was expensive.) For those of you with barrels from the soda bottling plants, did you put in spigots? And Dryn - what kind of barrels do they have at the dialysis center?

Great thread!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 10:57PM
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Perhaps your local town office has rain barrels........cheap! I was able to pick one up at our town office for about $40. In the stores they were at least $90. Last year wasn't the hottest, but I never used my hose once. The rain barrel kept me supplied with water all summer! The plants liked it better than hose water.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2005 at 8:13PM
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carol_mi(z6 MI)

Being too lazy to construct anything elaborate, I just bought a large trash can on sale, cut a small square out of the lid, and put a piece of old screen over the opening. (Secured from the underside with duct tape). It goes under the "modified" downspout. Whenever I need water, I just take off the lid and dip my watering can in there.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 10:26AM
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Are the plastic trash cans sturdy enough to handle the weight of the water? what size of can? What about overflow?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 11:21AM
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chuckr30(z5, GR-MI)

Yes I thought about that too, how do you put a spigot at the bottom of a 4' barrel when you need both hands to tighten the nut? Then I saw pics of barrels on their sides with the spigot in the top.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 4:10PM
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carol_mi(z6 MI)

Plaidthumb--To answer your questions; Yes, the plastic trash cans are plenty sturdy to handle water. I can't tell you what size mine is, maybe a 35 gallon? As for overflow, that's just what it does when I get a lot of rain..overflow. But since the lid of the can is curved upward (concave? convex?), the water never reaches the level of my screened opening, just spills over the side of the can. Garbage can lids are far from watertight.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 1:44PM
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To those asking about how to attach the spigot since you can't reach in to tighten a nut...

I picked up a brass spigot at Lowe's that has a 3/4 inch threaded male end. I drilled a 1/2 inch hole (that's the biggest bit I have) towards the bottom of the plastic barrel, then carefully enlarged it with my Dremel using a sanding drum. I would stop quite frequently and try to begin screwing the spigot into the hole. As soon as I thought it was big enough to barely force it in, I started screwing it in. It took a couple tries to get it to go in straight. Caulked around it with tub & shower caulk and let it dry. The main thing is, don't enlarge the hole too much, or you're in deep doo doo.

If we ever get any rain, we'll find out if it will hold. I did fill it about 1/3 full with tap water and it held fine. We'll see what happens when it finally rains around here...

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 12:25AM
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bananalover(GA z7b)

Gee why not get one person to hold the spigot and one person to turn the nut on???? I have rain bucket in my greenhouse that get water from a gutter that runs down the side of the greenhouse. I never worry about the mosquito larvea. The spiders in the greenhouse catch them before I can get bit, lol.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 11:41PM
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My husband doesn't want to attach a rain barrel to a gutter. I saw a barrel on line that can sit out in the open and doesn't have to attach to a gutter. Would this work as well? We have a severe drought where I live and I would like to get a rain barrel to water plants.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2005 at 11:06AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Lilleth, the barrel doesn't have to be actually attached to the gutter -- just underneath it. If you go that route plan on using the suggestions above to prevent mosquitos from breeding

    Bookmark   November 25, 2005 at 8:39AM
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gardenfaerie(z5b Michigan)

I currently have two 55-gallon barrels I got free from the water treatment plant. Before that I used 35-gallon plastic garbage cans (someone was asking about those).

The covers to my 55-gallon barrels are not removable, so I used a reciprocating saw (I think that's what it's called) to drill a hole for the opening just a pinch wider than my downspout. I also attached one of those plastic S-shaped downspout extensions to the end of the gutter so it rests on top of the hole.

With the garbage cans, I cut a larger hole and used window screen to keep out mosquitos.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 3:00PM
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draftsman28(5 IN)

Be sure to add a second hose at the top for the overflow. We get a lot of water in spring and the barrel fills up fast and flows over the top. I redirect the overflow away from the house w/ a hose because my dogs turn it into a mud pit.

Here is a link that might be useful: my rain barrel

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 11:07AM
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I got my 55 gal drum from where my husband works. He cut a hole in the top,covered the hole with a small holed screen and the down spout fills it when it rains. We added a hand pump $1.50 at a garage sale, I usually have a 3/4 full barrel at its lowest, but I did empty it last summer.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 12:44PM
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Does anyone know how to remove the top of a whiskey barrel without hurting the barrel structurally? Whenever I go to a historic place and see the rain barrels or trash cans, it looks as though the top ring has perhaps been taken off and the top removed whole, then the ring put back on again. If I just cut out the top, will it start to warp? Any suggestions would be great.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 4:24PM
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recluse(6b/7 NE TN)

I have four plastic 55 gallon drums that I use as rain barrels. One is under a corner of my shed, another is under a gutter (I actually removed the downspout so that rain would go into this barrel), and two are under the corner of my carport (I get a lot of rain coming from there for some reason).

All 4 barrels are full (they overflowed when it rained last week). We are, again, expecting rain for the next 3 days, and I don't want to miss any. Can someone tell me how to send overflow to another container?

Once these barrels are full, you can't move them..way too heavy! I have a 55 gal trash can on wheels that I want to use to hold the excess rain water until I can get some more barrels, but I can't figure out how to get the water from the full barrel into the trash can.

Any ideas?

Also, I use the mosquito dunks in all my barrels, but I can see mosquito larva in one of the barrels anyway. I haven't noticed any more mosquitos than usual (I had these larva last year too), but I'm wondering. Does the mosquito dunks kill them or just prevent them from hatching out into mosquitos?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 8:23AM
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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

picture of my tank on this thread...not cheap but works beautifully

Here is a link that might be useful: my rain barrel

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 8:45AM
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wildbill(6 CT)

I got two 55 gallon and three 33 gallon plastic barrels for free from a carwash. I had to rinse the soap out for a long time.

The barrels are raised up on stands I made from 2x4s. To use the water, I use a length of vinyl tubing dropped in the barrel with the end attached to a fishing weight. I use a siphon to start the water flowing.

Here's an informative link:

Here is a link that might be useful: RainbarrelInfo

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 9:58AM
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We can afford a 55 gal. whiskey barrel, so we got one, specilly since our downspout is very visible and I can't stand plastic. The barrel looks beautiful and works well. We connected a hose that goes all the way to the front yard, where our thirsty tree gets some extra water when it overflows. I use a can to water a few lonely hostas nearby which my other hose could not reach.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 7:15PM
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I am sure Garden Fever Gal is tired of posts after a year but heck....

Not sure where you are located but Denver Water (if they are your provider) does not allow the use of rain barrels. Something to do with calculating the amount of water that travels to eastern CO or somethin'.

But hey....I wouldn't tell. Just make sure no one sees it if prohibited.

I do use a 5 gal bucket in the shower to catch the water as the shower warms up. It's ok by Denver Water too (unless they changed). You'd be amazed at how fast a 5 gal bucket fills up!

And if the amount of precip these past 6 months, and temps over the last few weeks are an indicator...it is gonna be a heck of a hot and dry summmer!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 3:06PM
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I just setup a rain barell and have had great success collecting rain water over the past few weeks. I found great instructions on making the rain barrel from the link below.

I had a heck of a time finding a cheap barell though. I ended up finding one that was being thrown away by a restraunt, though I don't know what was in it before. So far I have just been using it for watering the lawn. I want to find more barells as i thas been working well.

Simple instructions about attaching a hose to the bottom rather than a spicket. I used a 1/2 inch PVC adapter screw on one end. Drilled a whole in the bucket and just threaded it in. It cut the threads no problem. Then I used crazy glue to glue a clear tubing into the other end.

Here is a link that might be useful: Build a Simple Rain Barrel

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 9:23PM
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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

Chris-rainharvester, your set up is awesome. Thanks for the directions and photos.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2008 at 3:12PM
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botanicals4u(zone 6 WV)

For years I kept a plastic garbage can near the door full of water to rinse my hands off and water the plants on my porch. I got a dozen or so cheap .28 cent goldfish from Wal-Mart and about 6 survived a for years. When leaves fell in I left them, and in the winter sometimes the ice would be almost 2 feet thick and the fish survived, hiding in the leaves. The can was between the house and cement steps and in the fall we piled leaves around it for insulation. What killed the fish was my husband wouldn't listen when I told him not to change the water. They can take a change of about 50% in a day but the fastest way to kill goldfish is to change the water or to add them to water too fast. They need time to make change the ph of the water. Ask a pet shop.

Other than that they work great for mosquito control. Mosquitos lay eggs in their and when they hatch the fish eat them. They are fun to feed also, but in the winter they must not eat.

I also keep a big plastic trash can for our horse to drink out of and Yes it holds water, winter and summer and No mosqitos are a problem because she drinks it faster than the time it takes them to breed.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 3:12PM
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Chris - thanks for the great ideas. I did post a comment on your site for your top pipe. I am probably going to start on my rain barrel system late May after the garden is planted. My husband works in water/wastewater and he had a friend at one of the treatment plants save me the 55 gallon barrels they get the water treatment chemicals in. These chemicals are the ones that are in your drinking water, so they are not the dangerous stuff. The treatment facilities do not return the barrels to the supplier, so they eventually get thrown into the landfill. They were more than happy to give them to me. All I had to do was go get them!!


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 12:46PM
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jaleeisa(6b Oklahoma)

My DH and I were discussing rain barrel setups last night. I'd like some feedback on our ideas.

We're looking at getting either some barrels from a local soda company or the largest black trash cans we can find. Then we're going to get spigots from the local hardware store and install them on the bottom edge of the barrel. A roll of window screen to keep debris out and perhaps some goldfish inside for the mosquitoes. Now, here's where we get to the tricky part...

We want to space them around our rather deep back yard. I'm wondering if they will catch enough rain if they aren't set under the gutter to provide enough pressure to work with soaker hoses? Right now we're in a drought in Oklahoma, but even being able to fill the barrels with tap water, turn the spigot to open the flow and allowing the soaker hoses to run would be a HUGE help to me. Then I wouldn't need to struggle with dragging a hose all over the yard.

A question about the goldfish as well, will they survive the winter or should I plan to purchase new ones for the barrels each year? I was also considering placing a screen over the spigot hole to make sure any low lying fish aren't injured by being sucked to the hole.

We also plant to plant different things around them to sorta camouflage them. Are there any plants that it would not be good to plant around them?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!


    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 9:58AM
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Not from my own experience, but I read somewhere that trash cans may not be able to handle the weight of the water, and won't last. Someone else may know more though...

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 1:30AM
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Here's a link to an article about the basics of collecting rainwater. I live in the desert and don't get much rain, but anyone who gets enough rain might find this useful!

Here is a link that might be useful: Collecting Rainwater for Lawn and Garden

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 7:36PM
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Check with your local water treatment plant . They get 65 gallon barrels that contain powders used to make clean water . These barrels are perfect for rain barrels - clean , super strong , large and opaque so you can see the water level and best of all -- free !
Good luck with your projects .

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 6:40AM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

Don't forget to empty your rainbarrel for the winter. I have turned mine upside down so that the ice that forms here in Canada does not blow it apart.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 5:08PM
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WhtRos(USDA z5a IL)

The rain barrels sound Great! But I'm wondering how you get the water to your plants? My hose is 100 ft long and it takes every bit of it to get all the way around my yard to water my flower beds. I am 63 years old and there is no way I can carry buckets of water all over my yard. I could put the buckets in my utility wagon but it would be too heavy for me to pull and would take a long time to get the water to all my flowers.

Are you using a pump in your barrels to pump the water thru a hose? I'm guessing the barrels would empty pretty fast. I've thot about putting in an irrigation system but the city has to approve the set-up and someone has to come out every year to approve it. That would be costly. The only solution that I have been able to find is adding an irrigation meter for my outside watering which saves me the sewer charges. That adds up to a lot of $$$ every year. With prices going up, I would like to make the rain barrels work for, at least, part of my watering. Thanx for your help, Barbara.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 11:45PM
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To deal with winter we just open the faucet and attach a short bit of hose to take any water away from the foundation. The little bit of water left at the bottom doesn't seem to harm them, though we were concerned about "wear and tear" on the faucet attachment.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rain Barrels in the frosty north

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 3:57PM
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Does anyone know what kind of plastic the soda bottling companies or the wastewater treatment plants' barrels are made of ? It matters to me whether I am contaminating my edibles and the groundwater with a lot, or a little, plasticizer residue. I have heard #5 Polyprolylene and also Hi-density Polyethylene are safest for leaching...
It really irks me that there are "rain barrel liners" and even rain barrels made of PVC aka vinyl, which leaches hormone-disrupting plasticizers terribly amongst other objections to it, and is NOT food-safe.

I wish I could assume the soda bottling company barrels are food safe, but can anyone tell me what the number and symbol of the plastic for them is?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 8:14PM
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Megmaine - I wouldn't automatically assume that the soda barrels are non-PVC. Believe it or not, PVC is approved for food use. If you look you will see that some food jars, and many "clamshell" containers (for berries, etc.) are #3 PVC. The plastic number may or may not be on the bottom of the barrel.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 3:16PM
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I know it's been a few years, but I think putting fish inside the rain barrel is brilliant.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 11:32PM
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Me too. And thanks for the tips on finding inexpensive ones.

Also, recently on HGTV, I saw them put a soaker/seeper hose onto the spigot. It can be turned on or off as needed, obviously. That said, I think I'd still add a spigot for a hose so I can get that water into my watering can as well.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 5:51PM
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I like to do calculations, so I thought I'd share.

I bought a 32 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck [trash] can. Costs about 30$.

Now for the math.
Feeding the downspout is about a 16 foot length of gutter.
I've measured the house and it's about 20 feet from edge to top. That's 320 square feet. 1 inch of rain equates to 26.667 cubic feet, which is 199 gallons! Half inch of rain is ~100 gallons. 1/4inch rain is ~50 gallons.

Every time I come home from work after a decent rain, the 32 gallon rain barrel is full to the rim.

The funny thing about rain barrels is that you obviously don't need to use the water right after a rain. And mosquitoes do love my rain barrel. I like the idea of goldfish and insect screen.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 2:25AM
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Hi y'all. Hubby and I have made 5 rain barrels. Ours are soda syrup barrels. We used the bung to attach the spigot. In the
center of the the bung we found ours had 3/4' threads. Although it was sealed over, we were able to drill out the seal
without damaging the threads. We then attached a 3/4' threaded 2' nipple, a threaded elbow, another nipple and
then a pvc 1/4 turn ball valve, and another 3/4' threaded nipple to attach a hose to. Everything was wrapped
with teflon tape and silcone caulk was used on the bung and the overflow hose then we turned it upside down
and cut a hole for the downspout. About 2 or 3' from the top we drilled a hole just big enough for another
3/4' threaded nipple. This was used for a overflow hose. It also could be used to add another barrel.
another option we are considering is stacking the barrels. Using the bung hole we would put a pvc pipe
from the top barrel to the the bottom barrel, thus using only one spigot and giving more pressure. I use
the rain water quite frequently to water my many flower beds. I attach another hose to the spigot and
run it to where I need it. A full barrel will put out a 4' spray from a sprinkler until about the barrel is half full. Like I said earlier the threads on the bung are 3/4' you could attach a garden hose and a shutoff valve on the end of the hose.

Here is a link that might be useful: photos gardenweb

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 1:46AM
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I read somewhere that water warmed up by the sun is great for plants in your garden (instead of ice cold from the hose) and wanted to put a bucket outside for watering. The rain barrel idea is great. BUT, since I will be putting the barrel in the sun, would the temperature kill a little fish if I choose him to eat the mosquito larvae? It's hard to imagine heat that would be unbearable right now, but I know Oklahoma!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 3:05PM
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I was discussing the adding a spigot thing with hubbie. His suggestion for fastening it inside "Lower a small child". I figured I'd just turn it on it's side and crawl inside. That is, if the lid comes off.

Does anyone disguise their rain barrels with plantings or something?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 7:27PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I think one of my better "ideas' was an above ground water storage made of stacked 4x4's and lined with fiberglass tarp. The original purpose was to store rainwater but turned into a water garden lol.
I ran my roof gutters underground and go over the side producing not only a Rain barrel but a self cleaning water garden. No need to disguise it as it's beautiful . had to add fish anyway to control mosquitoes so why not a few water lily lol. Built it for under 400 bucks and hold almost 1000 gallons . be sure to plan an overflow which I use to water a marsh or meadow garden depending on rainfall.
Of course as a water garden you can only pull so much water from it and occasionally had to resort to the hose .
Wish I'd built it bigger as I love the water garden aspect of it . gary

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 6:23AM
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From someone who uses rain barrels here is some things you might not have thought of or know.
1. Rain barrels only work in places where it rains. In places like southern California where it doesn't rain any significant amounts of rain for seven months in a row you will use up all the water in your rain barrel the first time you water even a medium sized garden and a few trees.
2. The first rain off the roof will usually be full of dust that was on the roof and will turn to a layer of mud at the bottom of your barrel.
3. Certain types of roofs like anti-mildew treated wood shake roofs will poison the water coming off the roof. My neighbors dog was poisoned and died when water coming off the owners roof fell in its water bowl.
4. Most likely your rain barrel will be full when you don't need the water like during the rainy season and empty when you do need it.
So if you use the rainwater for watering potted plants fine, its better than tap water because it doesn't have salt or chlorine in it or leave hard water deposits, but if you picture yourself merrily watering your garden and lawn with free water you collected off your roof forget it, you couldn't store enough in a couple of dozen 55 gallon drums.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 9:37PM
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Therefore we shouldn't construct rain barrels? Sorry, your line of thinking doesn't... hold water.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 12:06AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Found every one of his points quite valid lol.
Every one of them "Holds water" IMO lol gary

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 4:51AM
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I think mebbe you need to start wearing a hat in that Florida sun. Californian hasn't offered a valid reason to not conserve water, aside from his neighbors roof being treated with "anti-mildew" agents. As far as his dogs' death, that's solely on his neighbors shoulders. If you gonna spray poison, be prepared to be responsible.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 4:00PM
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Greetings, this is an old thread but certainly relevant!! Here in southeastern PA it is April and it hasn't rained in quite awhile. I just moved here, I am putting in new landscaping and I"m dreading the possibility of a nasty drought/heat spell like we had last year.

I'd love to build some rain barrels... but yeah, if it doesn't rain they are no use! I'm wondering how long a standard barrel will last on a moderate sized garden w/some new trees, veggies & patio shrubs. All of it is new, or else I wouldn't be so concerned. Are we talking a month of judicious watering? Also wondering about evaporation in the heat.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Most barrels are in the 50 gallon range. It's real hard for any of us to say how long that will last in your garden, but I seem to recall just a couple of times last year that mine went dry due to lack of rain. With new landscaping, I suspect you're water requirements are a bit on the high side for your sized garden.

As far as evaporation. A lid on the container will solve that problem (doesn't even have to be a snug fitting lid).

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 2:18PM
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after watching a national geographic special the other day that mentioned just how bad the over use of water supplies is getting in the desert areas in our country, I'm very surprised to see someone from california say that we shouldn't collect rain water. In my opinion it's very responsible, even if we can only supplement our water supply. If every gardener did it, there would be that much less water pulled from the water supply.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 3:36AM
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Re: rain barrel and mosquito control: besides the screening I have on top, I added about 1 tbsp. of olive oil to the full barrel. This created an oil sheen over the top, which I hear will suffocate larvae. Can anyone verify this? Also, will veg. oil in the garden deter plants growing in the root zone, or worms and the like?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 5:43PM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

I don't know exactly how thick an oil layer would have to be, but it should work if thick enough. A bit of olive oil certainly won't hurt the garden.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 4:22PM
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I want to alert anyone wanting to use so-called food grade plastics for growing vegetables or for the collecting of rain water, that these containers are very toxic and grow deadly strains of black, red, orange and green molds.
Watering plants with the 5 gallon buckets that came from Chinese restaurants that contained soy sauce are especially toxic if used over a period of time, as the minerals from water wear down the plastic and make it more and more porous and toxic. The toxicity is both from the leaching of the plastic and mold into the water.
We have to take our health into our own hands, as few; (not all)in business have any sense of morality when a profit can be made!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 1:40PM
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Does anyone know where I can find 4 55 gallon plastic barrels? I live in Dacula GA and transportation is going to be the problem. I've found some on craigslist but they are too far from me to make multiple trips.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:45PM
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