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. says

    I am in the market for a few and I would have loved to stumble upon that sale. My husband wants to make them, but there are sososososo many other projects that need attention. Perhaps I just need to buy one before the rain turns to desert heat.

  2. says

    Well I feel like I was born yesterday because I have never heard of this, but I am loving it! In the Texas Hill Country we have tanks on our ranches to collect water and feed the animals…I guess that is the same concept. So what exactly do y’all use the collected water for? Watering plants? Gardening?

  3. says

    Ooh, it’s so… blue! And that picture of John in the car is cracking. me. up.

    We just got a compost bin and I need to get it all set up. Bring it on, Earth Day!

    • says

      We learned in our class that if you have your roof cleaned for algae you shouldn’t water veggies with rain barrel water (since runoff from the bleach treatment can get into the barrel) but we never do anything like that so our water was just the same as rain falling on our veggie garden (which happened a lot too, haha).


    • says

      I agree with this concern. Even if you aren’t cleaning/bleaching your roof, if your roof is made from asphalt shingles, you are getting run-off in the collected rain water that is not approved for FDA use because it contains nasty chemicals and crude oil (petroleum). I would stick to using rain barrel water on your flower garden or lawn, not on anything you plan to eat!

    • Alison says

      You guys could always get a second rain barrel to use with a rain saucer/chain if you had a big veggie garden. That way you avoid the problem of run-off from the shingles, but are still being friendly to our earth. :)

  4. says

    So. I have heard of rain barrels… but never actually seen one. Thanks for the education! :)

    In the spirit of Earth Day, I have to mention the (small) wind turbines that we are going to have installed on our roof. They won’t be huge, but they will generate free energy!! (Note: we will still have gas & power lines coming into the house.) Cool, huh?

    Here is a link where you can read more about it.

  5. Barb says

    Seriously, I need your opinions…both of you. What are your thoughts on the plant liriope that you have all over your yard? We are planning a front flower bed with them as the main ground cover and plan to go (tomorrow) and buy 24 of them. what are the pros and cons of them? How tall are yours and why are you digging yours up?

    Wish I lived closer….I would love to pay you the 200.00 plus dollars I will spend for the 24 plants…in exchange for some plants out of your yard.

    PLEASE talk to me about this. What are your thoughts on having this plant in your yard?

    Oh, and Happy Earth Day right back at ya!!! Nice posts again this week…have a wonderful, earthy, family weekend.


    • says

      It’s pretty and very easy care. We had a lot in our last house and have a lot in this house that we’ll be keeping (lining each side of our driveway for example). We just want more livable outdoor space, so adding a big patio with hard-scaping and a place to sit outside is on the agenda for us when it comes to that side yard.


    • says

      I planted liriope last spring in my shade garden and so far it’s been a very easy plant to care for. I have my rain barrels set up with a drip hose and have them spread throughout the garden and that’s all the care they need for my Missouri weather. I got them at root size last spring and this year they are already about 4 inches tall. My garden is coming in late this year due to the long winter but I really loved them last year though I due wish they had a bit more spread. Hopefully in years to come they will be fuller. In the mean time, we’ve paired them with hostas for a fuller design. Our batch came from White Flower Farm online and I have nothing but great things to say about them.

  6. says

    This post is exciting. My husband and I scored 2 empty barrels off of craigslist and will soon be setting them up. My husband just built a solar panel which he hopes to have it power a small pump so we can hook a hose up to the rain barrel that we can use to water our newly created organic veggie garden :)

  7. says

    We’ve been meaning to install one of these. Maybe this weekend. I would love to be able to save some water and some money reuasing what mother nature is already providing us.

  8. Mandy says

    We have had a rain barrel since right after we moved into our house last May, and I love it! The hubs made it for like $5, cuz the barrel was free from his work, so we just needed the pieces to make the spigot. Ours is about as low on the barrel as you can get, which I love. and right by our apple and pear trees, and the veggie garden, so it really cuts down on water usage from the ol’ house when watering things. We have 4 downspouts (one on each corner of the house, seems a little overkill to me) and I think we are going to put one of the opposite corner of the house as well, to help be able to water the trees and flowers out front

  9. says

    I might even come dig some for free…=) Thats the way to get it done. Offer it on freecycle…or to me by email…and I will come dig what I need and then you don’t have to do it!

  10. Holly H says

    Ha I was just outside working in the garden thinking how great it would be for you guys to do a garden post. I’m almost at the bottom of our rain barrel – which is so not typical for here (rainy Belgium) so here’s hoping for some rain to fill up those barrels!

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