Rain Barrels

Rain Barrels help reduce roof rainwater runoff and improve water quality...


A great way to further reduce rainwater runoff is to use Rain Barrels. Rain Barrel (sometimes called cisterns) are aboveground water storage vessels.  A Rain Barrel collects water from your roof downspouts and stores it for later use.  Rainwater can be used for any non-potable purpose such as watering plants, washing cars, or bathing pets. Rain Barrels divert water from storm drain systems and thus reduce pollutants and the velocity of water entering local rivers and streams;


Save Water!

Rain Barrels will collect the water on a rainy day and conserve it for use on a dry day.  A typical house has a roof area of 1,200 square feet and four downspouts that will each drain about 300 square feet of roof. That means a rainfall of 0.3 inches will fill a 55-gallon rain barrel placed under each downspout.


Save Money!

Save money on your water bill by using water stored in Rain Barrels


For more information about Rain Barrels:  


  • Check out our educational brochure: "Recycling Rain Water: How to Save Money and Conserve Water with Rain Barrels"



Installing your Rain Barrel

Supplies Required

Garden hose or soaker hose

One 15’ section of garden hose

One 5’ flexible downspout diverter

Cinder blocks or short lengths of 4x4 lumber

*most supplies are available from a local hardware store

  1. Select a location to install your rain barrel. You will want it to place it near a gutter downspout from your house, garage, or shed.

  2. In order to increase the output water pressure and provide for easier use of the spigot near the bottom of the barrel, you may wish to elevate the barrel using securely-placed cinder blocks or 4x4 lumber scraps. Keep in mind that the lower spigot of the barrel must be higher than the highest point you wish to water with the collected rain.

  3. Modify your downspout by cutting it with a hacksaw approximately 12” above the top of the barrel.  Use the flexible downspout diverter to divert the downspout into the opening on the top of the barrel. Save the cut section of downspout and reinstall in during winter months while your empty barrel is stored in the garage.

  4. Secure the 15’ hose to the upper spigot and open the spigot. This hose will act as an overflow allowing you to divert the excess water away from the house. 

  5. Secure a garden hose or soaker hose to the lower spigot and close the spigot until you are ready to water your garden. You can also use your rain barrel without a hose to fill watering cans, fountains, etc.


  • You should store your barrel in the garage during winter months. See below for winterizing your rain barrel.

  • As long as the water collected doesn’t remain in the barrel for more than a week or two, mosquitoes shouldn’t be a concern.

  • Consider connecting a soaker hose to your barrel for watering flower or garden beds.

  • Paint away! Most paint manufacturers offer spray and brush on paints for use on plastics.

  • Does your rain barrel fill up to quickly? Consider adding a second rain barrel.

Winterizing Your Rain Barrel

Leaves are falling and the scent of apples baking means it’s already time to think about getting ready for winter.  One thing you need to do is winterize your rain barrel.  Preparing your rain barrel for winter can prolong its life and save you from replacing it anytime soon. Linked here is an easy to follow document from the City of Lafayette, IN with a step-by-step process to get this off your to do list.

  1. Drain your rain barrel completely once the growing season has ended. Run the discharge hose over to an established tree or use the remaining water on other nearby vegetation. Plants need moisture throughout the winter, so water away.

  2. Clear away any debris whether it is on the top of the barrel, inside its strainer basket or in the down spout itself. Now is a good time to trim back vegetation or tree branches that may have grown around the area.

  3. Remove the drainage and over flow hoses and store them in a safe and protected area. Keeping garden hoses out of the elements will prevent them from prematurely cracking or hardening.

  4. Open the spigot located at the bottom of the rain barrel and leave it open until spring arrives. This will allow any water that may accumulate in the barrel to flow freely out and onto the ground.

  5. Once the hoses have been removed and the bottom spigot has been opened, it is typically safe to leave the rain barrel in place over the winter. Ideally any melting snow or winter rain will flow through the barrel and out the spigot without doing damage to the barrel itself.

  6. If the empty rain barrel is removed and stored indoors for the winter, it is imperative to extend the existing downspout down and away from the home’s foundation. An easy way to do this is to purchase a flexible downspout extension and attach it to the existing downspout using short, self-drilling sheet metal screws. Downspouts and extensions should always be secured into place using sheet metal screws to prevent them from slipping loose. Improperly drained gutters are the number one cause of damage to home foundations.

  7. When spring draws near and the threat of one more deep winter freeze has passed, close the rain barrel’s spigot, reattach the overflow and drainage hoses and start using your virtually free water supply once again.


Your Rain Barrel

1.  Clean the barrel with warm soapy water and baking soda.

2.  Use fine grit sand paper on the outside surface.  This helps the paint stick, but also smooths out any shallow cuts that may be on the barrel. 

3.  If you are going to use acrylics, apply a coat of bonding primer next. 

4.  Paint until you are happy.

5.  Allow enough time for it to dry completely.

6.  A clear coat seal is recommended to protect your artwork.  You may be able to get a local body shop to clear coat it with automotive paint.  You can also do it yourself with the clear coating that comes in a spray can.



Using artist’s oils is not recommended.  Basically they “never” completely dry, and you cannot seal them like acrylics.


You can use the new specialty spray paints for plastics.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.  On average it will take 2-3 cans to cover one rain barrel.


Have fun painting &  be creative!