How to Install a Rainbarrel

by Amy on April 26, 2008

Today my husband Graham and I (well, mostly Graham) installed our rain barrels, which we purchased at a local shop called Envirosponsible.

Graham went to the hardware store and bought four concrete blocks to sit the barrels on top of. They would be fine on the ground, but raising them up a bit makes it easier to use the tap at the base, and allows space for setting a watering can down beneath and filling it up. He also picked up a couple of ready-made plastic downspout extensions. These are usually used to extend the downspout or to direct water away from your foundation. In our case, they’re going to direct water into our rain barrels.

First Graham cut some of the length from the downspout. He placed the barrel nearby to get a rough idea where he should cut.


Next I leveled out the ground beneath the downspout (I had moved a perennial plant out of the way while he was at the hardware store), and then Graham placed the heavy concrete blocks in place.


Then we positioned the barrel on top of the blocks.


You’ll notice that the blocks were too close to the foundation, so we had to adjust their positioning a little bit.


Next Graham placed the downspout extension over the piece of downspout at the side of the house. If he looks a little annoyed, it’s because he really wants me to put down the damn camera and give him a hand, already.


Graham then cut a hole in the lid of the barrel to fit the end of the fitted downspout piece into the barrel itself. He did this with a utility knife with a curved blade, but a jigsaw would work, too.


Ta-daaaa! Done. The rain barrel was installed.


And, as if on cue, the rain started to fall…

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Chair April 26, 2008 at 9:33 pm

Suggestion (only because we’ve had them for years and many crazy rain storms): cut some sort of drain hole to control which way the overflow goes (add hose if you want/can).

Otherwise it’ll likely force it’s way out of whatever space it can, possibly popping off your spout extension and may pool against the house =BAD! I know for a fact how freakishly crappy it is to be bailing buckets of water out of the basement during an insane rain storm because of bad direction of overflow (while 6 months preggo with Theya!)
Otherwise, awesome!!


Katie April 26, 2008 at 11:41 pm

Very cool! I like your pictures – this seems like a really easy project that has an even better payback.


Meighan April 27, 2008 at 9:30 am

What happens if it gets full?


anne April 27, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Nice job on the rainbarrel! We just installed our as well!


Sally (Scarborough) April 28, 2008 at 10:00 am

I have two rain barrels and they are fabulous and the water is so much better for the plants…ours has the a split pipe – and a lever so I can control the direction of water (I switch it to the main downspout just before freezing weather otherwise the barrels can split and I leave the tap open to drain all water out…BUT with your garden you will find during the summer, they are NEVER full! :) you will always be using them for vegetables, containers/pots etc etc. Our downspout doesn’t go all the way to the opening because we have a little screen “plug” that i can lift off and toss leaves aside (they can block the water flow sometimes)…enjoy the barrels and your garden and blog are lovely. Sally (Scarborough)


Navin May 13, 2010 at 9:59 am

Hi Sally,
We live in Ajax, ON, very close to Scarborough and were wondering if you can let us know where you sourced the barrels from.
I see couple of places to buy them, but want to buy a tried product.


Christy April 28, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Great idea! I live in the Atlanta area where there has been a serious lack of rain for a few years. You have inspired me.


Randy April 29, 2008 at 12:41 pm

I wanted to use my rain barrels but I wasn’t sure if they would work with a soaker hose. Any experience with that?


Chad April 29, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Hey everyone, Chad from envirosponsible here. Soaker hoses work perfectly with a rain barrel, as long as the tap is a few inches higher than the hose.

Using a soaker hose will save you time since you don’t have to fill can after can. Simply place the soaker hose where you want to water, open the rain barrel tap, and finish by closing the tap.

Rain barrels fill quickly, and one good rain storm will fill 3-6 barrels connected together onto one downspout easily.

A good way to insure your setup won’t flood your foundation, other than a multiple barrel system, is to attach a downspout diverter kit. That way, when the barrel’s full, the water is diverted back down the downspout. It’s also great for leaving your rain barrel connect when you’re away or traveling.

Please visit our site for more information including videos.


Dawn January 24, 2009 at 2:48 pm

This will be 2nd try at gardening. The first was 32 years ago. For many years we’ve been talking with a friend about putting a garden at his place. The one drawback has been a water issue. They have a cistern and not wanting to use their water for the garden we didn’t know what else to do. This will work perfectly for us. I just have to find them in my area.


Rob April 11, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Another consideration is debris from your downspouts.
You want to be able to remove unwanted leaves, twigs, pine needles, etc that may flow down the spout. A screen on the barrel will enable you to do this without restricting the flow of water through the downspout. As well, the screen prevents mosquitoes from entering your barrel. Too many barrels in retail stores have loose screens on them that can be removed too easily. Do your homework before purchasing your barrels.


Nina Gerulski April 14, 2009 at 7:26 am

read in a few places that the water collected from a downspout should not be used in a vegetable garden due to contamination from animals on the roof. myth or fact?


Rachel August 6, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Hi, I’m from the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and we are adding a page on our website about down spouts and rain barrels. I really liked the pictures you used on your article on this subject. We would be very grateful if you would grant us permission to use your pictures and captions on our government site as a guide to how to install a rain barrel. You would of course get credit for your pictures. Please e-mail me at Thank you so much.



rebecca November 4, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I'm a graphic designer for Snohomish County local government. and I'm wondering if I can have permission to use some of your pictures (rain barrel compost and food scraps) for a brochure I'm creating. Please let me know. thanks!


Sukhi Kaur May 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Hi there, I am from Ottawa and last month we had a outoor water ban, so we all had to invest in rain barrels for our gardens and etc. I bought a rain barrel but was in a delimma as to how should I install it, some people were charging $140.00 to install. I am so grateful for the instruction you have provided, this weekend I will attempt to do it myself.


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Mick Myers February 16, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Great Idea! Call me crazy but my plants and I luv natural rain! We suggest this to our clients as well. I have my son manage it. He’s a pro at recycle watering. Healthy green Lawns are awesome. Growing investment that adds both value and enjoyment to your home!
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