Making My Own Rain Barrels

This rain barrel is for sale for $300
I'd love to make a similar one - but I may need to hire someone to paint it.  

I needed to draw up a plan for my rain barrel project, and I decided I might as well put it right here - that will enable anyone with experience to comment and give input.  I'll update as I progress - right now the barrels are frozen to the ground in half a foot or more of snow, but with the temps in the 40s all  next week, I expect to be able to get them to the garage to work on them soon.

The Barrels - 
I have 55 gallon white barrels that my husband got from someone last year when I  first started talking about wanting to make my own.  After reading a LOT of websites, I think I decided I want two barrels by the garage, and one off the corner of the house.  (There's really not room for two at the corner).  Eventually I want a whole row of them up at the upper shed, but I'm starting with the backyard first - where I keep my raised garden beds.  

Ask around, someone is likely to know where to get food grade barrels.  Apparently many places have to pay to dispose of them, because they are plastic, so they are often cheap or free.

The Base
I will most likely elevate them off the ground with pallets, or some sort of wooden structure built from scrap our rough cut lumber.

I found this information at the Rain Barrel Man site - I'm thinking 2 feet of the ground, approximately.  (But after reading more, closer to 3 feet might be better)
The higher the elevation the greater the water pressure will be at the lower point. Each foot of elevation change is equal to 0.433 PSI (pounds per square inch) of water pressure or every 2.3 feet in elevation you will get 1 lbs of pressure. So if you place your Rain Barrel on a 2 ft. stand you would have 2.165 pounds of water pressure. To give you an idea as to how low that is, is to tell you that the plumbing in your house is between 40-80 PSI and you would not want that in your Rain Barrel because it would be empty in seconds! 2 to 3 PSI is a good operating mode especially if you connect a drip irrigation kit to it.

Getting the Water IN the Barrel

I really like this for getting the water from the downspout to the barrel - but I want to see if I can find a cheaper version.  ($32 for that???)  I'll take the photo into our local hardware store and see what they recommend.

I love the river rocks on top of the barrel.  My plan is to cut a large hole into the top of the barrel, cover it in screen, then in river rocks as shown here

Then I want to cut (drill) two small holes (one inch diameter? ) at the top of the barrel for overflow.

I love this site - one of the things I learned there was this- 
Don’t get bugged. Mosquitoes are naturally drawn to stagnant water and rain barrels provide the ideal breeding ground. Screens will stop some of that, but not all. One year, I had mosquitoes crawling in through my overflow pipe.  Adding several drops of baby oil to each rain barrel will create an oily film in the water, and should stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in your rain barrel.

This site suggested a food grade oil, which is probably wise - but also mentioned that some people use goldfish in them.  Huh.  I like that idea...  no oil with the fish, and you have to make sure they always have water.. and of course there is the added concern of how big will they get, where will I keep them over winter if they are huge...  maybe I'll use olive oil

I also loved that he just tossed an old window screen over the top of the barrel.  :-)  I also noticed that his gutters appear to just be shortened. the piece that is already on the bottom of mine, at the ground, is now above the barrel.  If I can shorten my spouting like this, it would save needing that "rain saver" part above.  He notes "Your downspout might not quite hit the sweet spot on the rain barrel.  A little extra piece of aluminum downspout is probably the simplest solution. I used a piece of Plexiglas, which also does the job nicely."  - You can see that more clearly on his site.

The Spigot

Isn't that cute?  It's also $46.  So no thanks.  :-)

This Youtube video helped me A LOT.  I needed to see how the spigot actually is attached.  I made this materials list after watching it, I have a small town hardware store with helpful staff, so this basic list should work for me, they will make sure I get the right sizes.

At the instructables site, I read this comment - 
"skip the garden faucet, get a 1/4 turn 3/4" ball valve. 
Compare water flow with regular garden faucet and 1/4 turn ball valve 
(both screw into same size hole and fit a garden hose): 

Ok, I am not sure, after watching the video, that I need that much additional pressure, but I sort of love how the water comes through the stand, not the barrel.  I'm envisioning some sort of hose out of the bottom of the barrel, enabling you to completely empty it, which is awesome.  But I will probably settle for a spout near the bottom of the barrel

This site has two spigots - one at watering can height.  Something to consider...

Painting The Barrel
Do a google image search on painted rain barrels, and the results are pretty awesome.

With all of the plastic paints (like krylon) out there, it shouldn't be too difficult either...  not that I could paint the more intricate designs, those are beyond my skill set, but I can probably come up with something I have fun doing.  And maybe I can hire a friend to make me that peacock one...

This site shows entries from a rain barrel painting contest - what a great idea!