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Making a Rain Barrel

Collecting rainwater to save money and protect natural resources is a common practice - and an ancient one. As far back as 2,000 years, tribes throughout the world have been known to collect rainwater in simple clay containers for use during dry months.

Dry weather isn't the only reason to harvest your rainwater. It's a great way to save money, fill birdbaths and ponds, water gardens and lawns, use for washing the car and more. A 1000 square foot roof can yield about 600 gallons of water per inch of rainfall - and that's a lot!

A rain barrel on a patio

If you don't want to purchase one pre-assembled, rain barrels are easy to make. You'll want to find a barrel that is somewhat sturdy, with a capacity of at least 50 gallons. Food grade plastic barrels work well for this!

First, drill a hole in the lower half of the barrel for the faucet. You'll want to make sure you drill as low as possible while leaving enough height to be able to attach a hose or place a watering can under it.

Keep the barrel on its side, and thread the plastic edges of the hole with your faucet. Do this by screwing it all the way into your newly drilled hole, and back out again. Follow this step by applying a thin line of caulk around the outside edge of the hole.

Place a reducing washer over the hole, using the caulk as an adhesive. The raised lip on the inner rim of the washer is the side that should go against the barrel.

Once the washer is in place, you can screw the faucet back into it.

Now you'll want to repeat the application of the caulk and reducing washer from the inside of the barrel. Once you've got the washer caulked into place, screw on a lock-nut to secure the faucet.

Now that you've installed your faucet, you'll want to drill a 6" hole into the lid of the barrel. Screw the lid on over a tight mesh mosquito screen. This will keep bugs out of the barrel!

Place the barrel under a downspout on level ground, so that the water will spill into the top of the barrel and it won't tip over as it fills. You may need to adjust the height of the spout.

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