How To Make Your Own Rain Barrel Watering System

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How Much Water Can You Gather?

You might be surprised just how much water you are able to collect from normal rainfall. Even in light rain you will be able to catch several hundred gallons of roof run-off.

The calculation to know is 1 inch of rain on a 1,000 sq foot roof will equate to 600 gallons in your system!

With this in mind, you will need to use only strong and sturdy barrels. With water weighing something like 8 lbs per gallon, it will be supporting somewhere around 400 lbs of water when full!


If you are curious about how much rainfall your roof might capture, check out this handy calculator.

What Do You Need To Build Your Own System?

A rain barrel watering system comprises 3 main components.

  • Collection
  • Storage
  • Output


To collect the rain water effectively you simply need a wide surface and a piping system. In most cases this simply means your roof, gutters and down-spout.

Gutters are essential, and if your house doesn’t have these then this will be the biggest investment, but it is a once off cost (as long as the gutters last – which should be a long time!).

Don’t be tempted to skip the down-spout though – as any direct concentrated flow of water off of the roof can cause damage to the house foundations over time. Don’t simple let water be directed from the gutter into the barrel from a distance. Use a down spout to protect your home.shutterstock_197315396


You have a number of options when it comes to the storage tank that you decide to use. One thing to remember is to avoid square barrels like the plague! To be honest it is not clear why these are even made, when they constantly split, crack, and leak at the corners.

You can purchase a manufactured system, with barrels at around $85-135 each for a 55 gallon container. With that everything is done for you – although I have seen a few bad reviews about the standard fittings that come with these.

For the purposes of this post we are assuming that you are a hands-on, non money wasting, DIY type of person. So we are going to tell you how you can get a barrel for nothing – or almost nothing at least!

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