How To: Make a Rain Barrel

As of the end of June, Calgary has seen 144.6 mm of rainfall. While the rain seemed to put a damper of summer activities in the city in June, the number was far behind the record of 247.6 mm set in 2005, a record that had been held since 224 mm fell in that same timeframe in 1902. For gardeners in the city, rain is part of the sustenance that helps their gardens grow, and even if you aren’t a green thumb, having a rain barrel handy can help save on the water bill while maintaining a green lawn. The City has several opportunities to pick up rain barrels throughout the summer but, if you’re in need of a do-it-yourself activity, you could always build your own.

What you’ll need:
• 50 gallon, plastic barrel or other watertight container
• Silicone
• One-inch washer
• Three-quarter inch (female) coupling
• Three-quarter inch hose bib
• Faucet (male)
• 5/16 spade bit
• Electric drill
• Jigsaw or keyhole saw
• Safety glasses
• 2.25-inch hole saw
• 1.25-inch elbow
• Sump pump kit
• 1.25 inch barbed tube with male end
• 1.25 inch clamp

1. Firstly you’ll need a watertight container for your rain barrel. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need an actual barrel, as many plastic trashcans will also do the trick. Containers can be found at your local home improvement store or, in most cases, for half price or less online on sites like Kijiji or Craigslist.

2. Put on your safety glasses and measure a spot about 20 cm from the bottom of the barrel, this will be the future home of the barrels faucet. Using the spade drill, drill a hole. Take the one-inch washer and run a bead of silicone around the one side, then use the silicone tip or your finger to smooth it out all over the washer. Place the washer, silicone side down over the hole.

3. Insert the faucet until it’s snug to the barrel making sure it doesn’t point directly down. You want the head of the faucet to point to the side so you can slip a bucket underneath in order to capture water. Another option is to place the barrel on a platform for easier water access.

4. Take the female coupling and climb into the barrel to screw it to the male end of the faucet. This is where you might want to have a hand from a friend or family member to hold onto the faucet on the outside of the barrel while you attach the coupling on the inside.

5. Next you’ll want to create an overflow outlet for your barrel. Drill another hole, this time about 10 cm from the top of the barrel and attach the barb, securing it with the silicone and attach the elbow tubing on the inside. Take the flexible tubing from the sump pump kit (or just purchase a length of flexible tubing on its own) and attach to the outside of the barrel. The tubing will keep overflow from pouring over the foundation of your home and instead direct it either to your lawn or a nearby flowerbed.
6. Using a jigsaw cut a hole in the lid of the barrel, big enough to accommodate your downspout. Take window screening and secure over the top of the barrel and place the lid over top. The screening prevents debris and insects such as mosquitos who will breed in the barrel from getting in.

City of Calgary Rain Barrel Sales Events:
Aug 11 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
First Calgary Financial Beddington, 8220 Centre St NE
Aug. 18 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
First Calgary Financial Shawnessy,
110 70 Shawville Blvd SE
Sept. 15 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
First Calgary Financial Signal Hill
5735 Signal Hill Centre SW

Rain Barrel Distributors:
Gree n Calgary
#100 301 14th Street NW
Garden Retreat
201 60 Ave. SW
Calgary Plastic and Container Lt d.
1000 55 Ave. NE
Spruce It Up Garden Centre
Macleod Trail & 210 Ave SE

Have you made your own rain barrel? How did it go?

One thought on “How To: Make a Rain Barrel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *