It may not rain a lot here in the high dessert of Idaho which makes it all the more important to capture it when it does. That’s why rain barrels were an integral part of the alley gardening project right from the beginning.
If you start with one of the rain barrels that are commercially available you’ll be able to skip some of these materials and steps but might find the sizes available limiting. We planned to go big which meant a custom project.
Materials you’ll need
• Rain barrel – the one shown here is 210 gallons
• 8 – 12˝ x 16˝ concrete corner blocks
• Gutter pieces and parts – specific to your situation
• 2˝ to 3/4˝ coupler – also specific to your situation
• Plumber’s tape
Tools that will be useful
• Tin snips
• Cordless drill & bits
• Caulk gun
• Pipe wrench
Start by choosing a location by an existing gutter. In our example here, the rain barrel was almost as tall as the gutter so we dug down to ensure there would enough slope for gravity to work its magic. A little extra time spent making sure the base is tamped down, solid, and level now will alleviate frustrations down the line.
Make a base out of the concrete blocks altering the direction for added stability. Repeat a second row on top of this one, rotating the pattern 90°. Two layers of blocks is the perfect height for easy watering can filling.
Once your barrel is in place, it’s time to get it hooked up. Shown below are some of the parts that you might need to make it happen. We’re going to show you a rather complicated application in hopes it will make yours seem easy!
In this case we needed to span a space of 6’ from the end of the gutter to our rain barrel location. We repurposed the existing down spout and attached it to a new section of gutter.
Attach the new section of gutter to the old, checking with a level to make sure that it slopes down towards the barrel. Silicone the heck out of the joints. We used a shelf bracket attaching one end to the gutter and the other to the rain barrel to support the gutter.
A 45° elbow provides the entry into the barrel. A colander from the dollar store is the perfect size to fit the opening at the top to keep leaves and other debris out of the tank.
The outtake on our barrel was 2˝ so we used couplers to size down to 3/4˝. Now it’s time for the finishing touch – the spigot! Use plumbers tape for leak insurance and make sure to tighten everything down with a pipe wrench.
Now all that’s left is to start doing the rain dance!
NOTE: If you live in a cold climate, make sure to winterize your rain barrel by draining the water, removing the colander and replacing the lid. Leave the spigot open so that if any water gets in it drains right out.
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