If you have an outdoor garden or a significant amount of landscaping in your yard, chances are you have felt the sting of a high water bill or two. Rather than allowing your plants to suffer by reducing the frequency with which you water them, think about options in conserving and collecting water. A homemade rain barrel is an easy way to collect water from a downspout during heavy rains which you can then use to water your garden.
Set two concrete blocks on the ground under the downspout to which you intend to attach to your rain barrel. Angle the blocks slightly away from the house to ensure that the water flows easily from the barrel.
Place an empty 55-gallon plastic drum on top of the concrete blocks, directly below the downspout. You can often find plastic drums this large for little or no cost at bottling companies and commercial car washes. You may need to remove the downspout in order to position the drum correctly.
Use a jigsaw to cut a hole in the top center of the plastic barrel large enough to accommodate a plastic flowerpot. The plastic flowerpot should have several drainage holes in the bottom, and the hole in the plastic drum should be just large enough that the lip of the flowerpot rests on top of the drum.
Use an electric hand drill to drill a half-inch hole in the side of the plastic barrel near the bottom. Ensure that the hole is not so close to the bottom that you cannot reach it when you put your arm through the hole cut in the top of the barrel.
Screw a half-inch threaded bushing into an outdoor faucet so that about half of the bushing remains exposed. Screw the exposed portion of the bushing into the hole in the side of the barrel until the base of the faucet rests snugly against the side of the barrel. Apply a bead of silicone sealant around the faucet both inside and outside the barrel to create a watertight seal.
Cut the downspout with a hacksaw so it is just long enough that it fits inside the mouth of the plastic flowerpot. Reattach the downspout to the gutter, set the flowerpot inside the hole in the top of the barrel and position the mouth of the spout so it is centered inside the plastic flowerpot.
Drill a half-inch hole near the top of the barrel to be used as an overflow drain. Insert a 4-inch length of half-inch PVC halfway into the hole and screw a half-inch PVC elbow onto the exposed end of the pipe. Apply a bead of silicone sealant around the PVC inside and outside the plastic barrel.
Cut a length of halff-inch PVC long enough to reach from the PVC elbow to ground and insert it into the open connector on the PVC elbow. Attach a second PVC elbow to the opposite end of the PVC pipe. When the rain barrel is completely filled, the excess water will flow through the overflow pipe.
Attach a garden hose to the faucet or simply use the faucet to fill your watering can. With each rain, your rain barrel will fill with water that doesn't cost you a cent and is conveniently located right near your garden.