Previously mentioned in landscaping and irrigation posts, a rain barrel is a wonderful way to use some of that otherwise wasted water and reduce your potable water need for irrigation. There are some good options available for sale, but why not get creative and make it a fun weekend project to build your own piece of green building – a rain barrel.

I noticed a number of workshops for this and have myself 2 preferred sources, one of them in our backyard at the University of Florida. They have teamed up with Miami Dade County  Consumer and Water Department and are going around town to show and tell how it is done.

I recently noticed them at the Coral Gables Farmers market and at the Going Green day for the Village of Pinecrest…so keep looking for them.

Painted rain barrel


Electric Drill

  • Drill bit ½-inch to 1-inch
  • Drill bit 3/16-inch
  • Drill bit 1/8 inch
  • Jigsaw
  • Marking pen
  • Phillips screw driver
  • Pocket knife
  • Work-bench
  • Extension cord
  • Safety glasses


Plastic drum (55 gal. is best). Barrels that have carried food products are recommended. Some cleaning product barrels are OK after rinsing. Do NOT use petroleum or toxic chemical barrels.

The following are all PVC fittings:

  • Two-inch male adapter
  • Two-inch male slip x 3/4-inch female threaded adapter
  • 3/4-inch male threaded x 3/4-inch female threaded elbow (3/4 inch street el)
  • Four inch long 3/4-inch threaded nipple

The following can be either metal or plastic:

  • 3/4-inch female sillcock or hose bibb
  • PVC cement
  • Teflon™ tape or Teflon™ pipe joint compound
  • Silicone sealant
  • Three stainless steel sheet metal screws #10 x 3/4 inch
  • Stainless steel mesh with plastic rim kitchen strainer (4 to 6 inch diameter)


  1. Turn the barrel so that the end with no openings is facing up. 
  2. Fit the strainer on the end which is facing up so that it lays flat.
  3. Mark around the perimeter of the strainer, remove strainer and draw another line about ½ inch inside the perimeter line.
  4. Drill a pilot hole using the large bit just inside the inner drawn circle.
  5. Using the saber saw follow the inner circle line until the circle is removed. Remove the circle if it has fallen into the barrel. This is a good time to make sure the barrel is clean inside.
  6. Drill pilot holes in the strainer flanges and handle using the 3/16-inch bit. Place the strainer on the barrel and mark the hole locations on the barrel.
  7. Drill pilot holes in the barrel using the 1/8-inch bit.
  8. Partially screw into the strainer the #10 screws. Check to make sure the strainer holes match the barrel holes.
  9. Apply silicone sealant to the strainer rim and place the strainer into position. Tighten screws until just snug. (Pat yourself on the back, you have just completed the first part of the barrel).
  10. Place the barrel on its side. Unscrew one of the plastic filler plugs in the other end of the barrel.
  11. Apply PVC cement to the two-inch male adapter sleeve and place the two-inch male x 3/4-inch female threaded adapter inside and press together for a few seconds.
  12. Insert street el into the 3/4-inch hole of the adapter. Use teflon tape or sealant on all threaded parts 
  13. Insert 4 inch nipple into street el 
  14. Screw assembly into barrel. Four-inch nipple will work as a wrench to tighten first two fittings. 
  15. Connect water faucet to 4-inch nipple. Hand-tighten to proper position.
  16. Place barrel on level, sturdy base. Direct downspout over the strainer. (Hooray, you now have a functioning rain barrel).

Here are some more helpful hints from UF:

Contact Sebastian Eilert about your green project of any size ( 786.556.3118)