Did you know that up to 40% of total water use during the summer can come from
watering lawns and gardens? That’s a lot of water! During heavy rain storms, a
lot of water generally runs off of roofs and into storm drains which can impact
local streams and the Chesapeake Bay. One way to reduce stormwater run-off while
also conserving water is to use rain barrels in your backyard. Rain barrels are
an effective way to capture rain water to use in lawns and gardens.
Rain barrels are relatively easy and cheap to make, and most of the supplies can be found at local hardware stores. The most important part of a rain barrel is a 55 gallon water drum. Many times, you can find used barrels for sale at local beverage bottling places or places which process food. Be sure that you purchase food grade barrels from the vendors, and if it is used, then scrub the barrel
with some soapy water before you make the rain barrel. The following list of
materials and directions were obtained from the Maryland Environmental Design Program.
Using a measuring tape, measure about 1 inch above the
bottom of the barrel where the curvature along the bottom rim ends and the
barrel side begins to rise toward the top. Use a 3/4" bit (or hole saw) to
drill a hole through the barrel.
Screw the ½" PVC male adapter into this newly drilled hole. The
hard PVC threads cut matching grooves into the soft plastic of the barrel.
Un-screw the ½" PVC male adapter from the hole. Wrap threads
w/Teflon tape tightly. Coat the threads of the coupler with waterproof sealant.
Screw the coated adapter back into the hole and let it sit and dry for 24 hours.
Attach 3 1/2 foot vinyl hose to the PVC male adapter.
Using the atrium grate as a template for size, mark a circle at
the center of the top of the drum (Locating the rainwater inlet in the center of
the barrel allows the barrel to be pivoted without changing the position of the
Drill a ½" hole in the inside of the marked circle. Use a
router, jig or coping saw to further cut within the marked circle until the hole
is large enough to accommodate the atrium grate (the atrium grate is used to
filter out large debris). Make sure not to make the hole too big–you want the
flange of the atrium grate to fit securely on the top of the barrel without
falling in. Placing a scrap piece of fine mesh window screen inside or outside
of the grate will provide filtering of finer debris and mosquito control.
Using a ½" bit or saw, cut out a notch at the top of the barrel
rim (aligned so that it is above the outlet at the bottom of barrel). The notch
should be large enough so that the coupler will firmly snap into place.
The rain barrel is designed to take advantage of gravity. Water
will flow from the vinyl hose when the hose is below the barrel. Therefore,
place the barrel on cinder blocks at least 15 inches from the ground.
Modify the down spout with a gutter elbow to divert water into
Kerry Wixted Wildlife and Heritage Service 580 Taylor Ave, E-1 Annapolis, MD firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 410-260-8566 Fax: 410-260-8596
580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis MD 21401
Call toll-free in *Maryland* at 1-877-620-8DNR (8367)
Out of State: 410-260-8DNR (8367)