Buying & Installing A Rain Barrel For Earth Day

Happy Earth Day everyone! (And Happy Birthday to Sherry’s little brother, who’s also known as Almost-Doctor-Dan <– warning, very cute baby Clara pics here). In honor of this eco-tastic holiday, we thought we’d share a story about driving down the street and noticing this sign:

We’d been meaning to get a new rain barrel since we left the old one that we made at our first house when we sold it. Of course we would have been happy to make another one, but we had yet to get to that part of our to-do list (and sign up for a local course to get our mitts on a large food safe barrel). So we took that sign as, well, a sign and pulled over to window shop. Not that the place had windows…

We learned that we had happened upon Carolina Mike’s Produce Stand, but he’s still a week or so away from having produce. And although it looks very out-in-the-boonies, it’s actually on a busy suburban street across from a Target (Richmonders, it’s on the corner of Forest Hill Avenue and Cherokee Road in the Stratford Hills area).

Mike was super friendly and told us the tall black barrels (formerly used to transport jalapenos) were $60 and the shorter blue ones (which used to contain soy sauce) were $40 – even though both were 55 gallons. Coincidentally, $40 was exactly what we spent to make our last rain barrel (through a local class) so we took the easy route and tossed one of the $40 ready-made barrels into the backseat. That is, after I took a trip home to drop off Clara and Sherry to make room for my new blue best friend.

The barrel actually sat unused in our carport for a week-ish while we debated where to put it. But we finally decided that he’d be most helpful near the small fenced garden area behind our carport / next to our sunroom. And yes, I realize this would make more sense had I already written an outdoor tour post for you guys (I promise that’s around the corner – the pics are taken and uploaded, just not yet edited).

This area currently acts primarily as Burger’s restroom, but we’re soon hoping to de-liriope most of it (aka: dig up that floppy grass) and trade that thin brick pathway for a nice big stone patio on this side of the house (since it’s accessible from a sliding door in the living room). But we still plan to leave plenty of plant beds that will need watering around the perimeter of our DIY patio, so that downspout next to the brick half-wall (which is actually the back of the carport) was calling our rain barrel’s name.

First I made sure we could fit a watering can under the faucet (aka “hose bib”) which meant I wouldn’t need to raise the barrel on blocks or anything. Though if I had made the barrel from scratch, I probably would’ve put the hose bib in a bit lower so I could use all of the water in the barrel – not just what collects above faucet level. The good news is that our last barrel has a spigot in around the same spot and we didn’t have any issues with smell or algae from the water that collected below the spigot after years of use (we can always tip the barrel forward to fully drain it).

Anyway, once I leveled the ground where the barrel would sit and figured out where my downspout would need to end, I got out a small hacksaw and began cutting away.

You can see a more thorough breakdown of this process on our original “How To Build A Rain Barrel” post. But basically I squeezed the curved spout back in place after putting down the hacksaw, slid the barrel underneath it, and called it a day. Voila! Infinite rain collecting potential:

We’re still waiting for an actual rainstorm to put Ol’ Blue to good use, but it does feel good to be back in the rain barrel club again. Even if our new barrel is so bright that it doesn’t exactly blend quietly into the landscape.

Once we begin to more formally tackle this area we might take a paintbrush to it (brick red perhaps?) to help camouflage it a bit better (like we did to our utility boxes and propane tank here). Heck, maybe we’ll even plant a few things around it to further obscure it. ‘Til then, we’ll just consider it our not-so-subtle way of celebrating Earth Day.

Is anyone else in the rain barrel club after a lapse in membership like us? Or do you have big patio plans on the agenda? Every day Sherry taps me on the shoulder and says “Wanna go dig up some liriope? Come on you know you want to.” Sheesh. It’s like the adult version of “are we there yet?” Can’t a husband bask in the I-built-you-a-12-foot-console-table-glory for a little longer? No? Ok, I guess I have some shoveling to do…


  1. Sandy says

    Good idea. But will the water not start to smell from just sitting there until there’s enough water to be used??

    • says

      The good news is that our last barrel has a spigot in around the same spot and we didn’t have any issues with smell or algae from the water that collected below the spigot after years of use (we can always tip the barrel forward to fully drain it).


  2. Tisha says

    Thanks for this post. I am always trying to convince my husband to let me put a few rain barrels around our house. We live in Connecticut and get lots of rain, but come July and August, things can really change!

  3. says

    We are buying our rain barrel on the 14th of May at a One Day Only Truckload Sale(that is what the post card says). It is sponsored by our county. Yeah, for rain barrels. Right now I just wish it would stop raining in Cincinnati! Happy Earth Day…..susan

  4. LindseyD says

    Thank you for posting this! My husband will not stop talking about getting a rain barrel. This might motivate him more! :)

  5. Courtney says

    That guy sells everything. Great Veggies in the spring and Summer and tons of NFL gear in the fall. I like the entreprenuerial spirit! :) It’s right up the street from my parents house. That is so cool about the rain barrel though. Go earth day!!!

  6. Jessica C says

    Horray for birthdays! it’s mine too! horray for earth day too! GO EARTH! (wow super cheerleader in the back corner!)


  7. Laine says

    I used the spray paint for plastic on my bright blue rain barrel. One can worked like a charm. Now it blends in nicely with the house.

    PS–I’ve totally seen that rain barrel guy and wondered what he was charging.

    • Shannon says

      Laine – – how well has the spraypaint held up? We have a place in Seattle that sells the same barrels but they aren’t attractive & it would be on the side of our yard you see from the street so I know I would be annoyed by the blue beast.

  8. Peggy says

    As someone who just spent over 200 bucks on varigated liriope, may I suggest you Craig’s list it? Seriously, go price it at Lowe’s. A decent shovel full is $5.98.

  9. Wendy says

    We got lucky and last year our city sold rain systerns and compost bins for about half of the retail cost. I wish we would have bought 2 of both. Do you have any worries that the lower part of the barrel that is below the spout will get gross without being emptied?

    • says

      The good news is that our last barrel has a spigot in around the same spot and we didn’t have any issues with smell or algae from the water that collected below the spigot after years of use (we can always tip the barrel forward to fully drain it). Whew.


  10. Amy E. says

    it might be nice to have the barrel’s bib a little higher; that way the sediment can settle in the bottom instead of flowing into your watering can.

  11. says

    I’ve never heard of these being made out of large food barrels before, I love that! I spoke to some water industry people once and they said from an environmental point of view the embedded carbon in a normal water butt can limit how “green” they are (in some areas, it depends how water stressed your water company is), but having a reused one is totally amazing from that point of view!
    Also, you might be able to save some money on your water bills – in England some water companies charge for drainage on a per surface area basis and if you can prove you collect all your surface water run off you save money (although as you have a soakaway you’re probably not charged for this… but might help some british readers!)

  12. says

    You guys find the coolest sales! We need a rainbucket… and I know you have your how-to… but I’m not sure I could make one… I need to hunt one down… and at $40… oh that’d be sooo perfect!

  13. says

    one day…when I own a house (which could be soon, actually!!!!)…I will get a rain barrel…and I will try my hand [thumb] at a garden.

    I can’t wait to see the outside tour of your new grounds.

    So, does all the future warmer weather mean some outside projects to come???

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