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. Susan says

    I got a rainbarrel through a Clean Virginia Waterways seminar for $15. We set it up on bricks and attached a hose to the overflow valve and goes down around to the ground drain. It works well. 4 inches of rain from your roof fills the barrel. We use it to water the garden in our backyard. I saw a few at one of the local elementary schools that were painted with acyrlic paint in a variety of designs. Very cool.

  2. says

    john and sherry, would you mind telling me where you picked this guy up?! i’m in circhmond, and i’ve been wanting to buy/make a rain barrel but have had trouble justifying the price to buy one, and finding a barrel to make one. would love to check this place out :)

    thank you!!


  3. Ann Wyse says

    Good to know – rain water collection is (sadly) illegal in some states, so I’d be sure to check it out. (Most of the illegal states are west of the Mississippi River). Colorado is one such state… :-(

    • Lindsay says

      That’s crazy! And ok, I fully admit I didn’t believe you and Googled to look for myself – apologies for my lack of faith. ;)

      But apparently it’s illegal in Utah, Colorado, and Washington (or at least it was a couple years ago – I had trouble finding current info). Consider me baffled.

    • Katie says

      This is a reply to the comment below yours: It’s not illegal in Washington state. The state actually has recycling events where they sell rain barrels at a drastic discount, usually $25 to $50, which is awesome cuz they usually run around $100+ to buy a new on. I just bought one from a city recycling event last weekend :)

    • Lindsay says

      Katie – Good to know my quick googling was wrong on at least one state! I didn’t mean to spread mis-information! :)

    • says

      I’m a Coloradan, but have limited knowledge of this issue. Apparently, rain barrels are illegal due to how water rights are decided in this state.

  4. says

    My hubs made our rain barrel from a pepsi container & we used the ‘paint it to make it match our house’ technique which was especially important because the barrel is visible from the front of our house. We actually attach a hose to our barrel- it doesn’t have great water pressure, but the water runs out and that way we don’t have haul it in a watering can or bucket (we use it to water bushes and landscaping in the front of our house)

  5. Layla says

    I don’t know anything about rain barrels, but couldn’t you drop some clean gravel or something into the bottom of it? It’ll mean less sitting water, and any sediment would still sink into the gravel cracks, right? Just an idea, I don’t really know what I’m talking about here. =D

    • says

      That could work! Although it might make the barrel really heavy (not that it’s not already heavy when it has gallons of water in it!). Ours is sealed with a few layers of mesh netting so mosquitoes don’t get in, so it might be a lot of work to find a way to get that gravel in. Luckily our last barrel had the same space under the spigot and it worked just fine.


  6. says

    Yay Carolina Mike! I used to visit their old location(near that abandoned house next to the Hyundai dealership on Midlo) almost every weekend until they moved :( Had no idea they were just up at Forest Hill – I’ll have to visit in a few weeks when they have produce!

  7. says

    So last night I was at dinner with family and friends. One of my dear friends asked if I saw the latest cute pictures of Clara’s invite project for her one year bday. I was “yes of course! and how cute is Clara and Burger together!!!”

    In that moment we both realized that we talk about you guys like you’re our friends and we know you so well. It was pretty surreal/funny.

    Thanks for making our work days interesting :)

  8. says

    Yay for rainbarrels! I built mine last year as one of my first garden projects when I moved from an apartment to a rental house here in NE D.C. You can click on my name to go to a picture of it, plus step by step photos of making it.

    I can’t take credit for the design though, it came directly from an instructables found here:

    I got my rain barrels off craigslist, but they can also be bought from the local pepsi plant fro something like $10 a piece so I’ve been told. Glad to see this project on your blog!

  9. says

    what a great idea :) I always try to collect rain water in my little watering can! Why don’t they make those barrels green to blend in a little better…?

    • says

      I know right? Haha. They actually reuse food containers (to make it even greener) so they’re just barrels used to transport things like pickles and soy sauce. So I guess that’s why they come in lots of colors.


  10. says

    This has been on my list of things to do since we moved in…uh…a year and a half ago!! I guess I am a bit behind.
    Since the hubs is off work today perhaps I will enlist his help to go pick one up and get it installed…it’s even raining today!!

    In honor of Earth Day I am giving away a set of reusable totes – I am sure you are too busy to stop by but perhaps some of your followers might? FREE always works for me! :)

  11. says

    You two are just amazing. I have so many projects that I want to tackle (including a rain barrel), but often I’m not sure where to begin and whether or not I can do it myself. And then, “Ta-Daaahhhhh!” Another amazing post on my favorite blog, and everything I need to know is right there. Thank you so much. I’m ready to dive into my next project!

    • says

      It’s basically free water from mother nature, so we use ours to water the garden, veggies, and even wash the car or the windows. We wouldn’t drink it just in case something funky got in there (like pollen or bird poo, haha).


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