And why did we want a rain barrel? We started a garden this spring - more on that later - and we were eager to give our plants some watering attention without adding to our water bill.
Each barrel holds 60 gallons, giving 120 gallons of garden-watering capacity. The barrels are raised up on some concrete blocks because the higher the barrel the greater the pressure of the water coming out of the spigot - yay science! We leveled the blocks with kitty litter - we don't exactly keep sand lying around - then hid the kitty litter with mulch.
The barrels are connected with a manifold which has two good points: 1) it allows both barrels to be filled with only one downspout, and 2) it allows us to utilize the water in both barrels with just one garden hose.
There are several ways to get water into a rain barrel, but we went with the "drill lots of holes in the lid then cover the whole thing with mesh" method that works well with a 2-part lid (similar to a canning jar) like ours does.
That goofy, bent piece of PVC is our overflow pipe. When we drilled the hole for the pipe fitting we wanted it at the highest point possible, to collect as much water as we can before we send it out the overflow pipe. Sadly, it didn't occur to us that the top of the barrel is curved and would point the pipe away from the barrel. DOH. Eventually we might fix it, but for now we remedied the situation by adding a 45 degree elbow and directing the pipe back toward the splash block. Lastly, we wrapped some mesh around the bottom of the overflow pipe to keep mosquitos out.
$30 - 2 food-grade barrels
found on Craigslist
$45 - trip to the hardware store
10 feet of PVC pipe, various pipe fittings, PVC cement, 12 concrete blocks
$0 - already on hand
water-proof mesh, drill and bits, saw, dremmel
I won't give you a step-by-step breakdown (shocking, I know) because none of the ideas were original to us. We did some internet research and based our design on these three YouTube videos. I had planned on embedding them for you, but either Blogger or YouTube (probably Blogger) is being a dick, so you'll have to settle for the links.