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Harvesting the Rain for Your Lawn

June 14, 2010

It has been raining nonstop for the past two weeks, here in Columbia, Missouri. Although it is a blessing for our lawns and our water bill, this consistent flow of showers will not last long. In order to keep your gardens green, through the inevitable dry-spell, you might want to look into an ancient technique called, “Rain Harvesting!!!”

What is “Rain Harvesting!!?” Simply put, it is a fancy term for using your roof to collect and store rain water in an old whiskey barrel(you can use other forms of containers, but a whiskey barrel looks so much more natural in your backyard).

A simple method to reduce cost of having to water your lawn everyday, is to invest in a rain harvesting system, or to put it simply, to invest in a barrel with holes and some pipes. The process is simple, (there are numerous videos that show how this can be done) you simply attach a diverter to the gutter drain on your house and link it to a leveled barrel, with spigots attached to the bottom. Then you simply run pipes through the bottom of your barrel and throughout the lawn.

The process does not cost much but you can save more money by making your own barrels, just need a large container and a can-do attitude. You can make a rainbarrel from numerous different types of containers, ranging from plastic barrels to trash can. had a couple of tips on how to make your own barrels. They are listed below:

There are three methods described here for making rainbarrels. These instructions are all designed for totally enclosed rainbarrel systems thus avoiding mosquito problems.


This is the most simple type for those who have access to open top barrels. Trash Cans can be used; however, for the back pressure to occur completely, the top should be sealed with duct tape.


    1. Drill a 1” hole near the bottom of the container
    2. Attach “Spigot for open top container”
    3. Drill a 3/4″ hole in the top for the diverter hose to fit in


This is just as easy and takes only 10 minutes to make.


    1. Drill a 1/2 to max 3/4” hole in the center of the bung that is threaded. This will leave a small collar which will act as a washer.
    2. Attach “Spigot for Barrels (Horizontal)”
    3. Drill a 3/4” hole on the side of the barrel that is opposite to the drilled bung. Have a look at menu item ‘How to make Rain Barrels’ to get a better understanding plus ideas for horizontal barrels


The third way while a bit more complicated is probably the most favorable in that recycled closed top barrels which are the most common and readily available are used in the vertical position. Here are the steps in Picture form:


Drill a 15/16” hole near the bottom
or file about 1/64th ” of a 1 inch drill bit


Heat the area (To soften the plastic)


Spigot for Barrel (vertical)


Tighten hard (if no washer used)


Drill 3/4” hole (in Threaded Bung)


Attach hose to Garden
Watersaver Diverter unit


  1. For drilling for the spigot – file 1/64″ off the blade drill bit ( a little off each side ) and do not use a washer and tighten the Spigot hard. If it will not tighten hard then use the washer ( and if necessry teflon tape )
  2. If the plan is to link barrels then do not file the 1” blade bit until you drill the holes for the Connector kit. as it needs a full 1 “ hole (See Linking Barrels)
  3. Do not use barrels that contained chemicals and do not drink the rainwater without purifying. Barrels that contained food products or soap type products are available in most cities.

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