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Rainwater Harvesting for the LA Basin

Make Your Own Rainwater Harvesting Barrel

Reduce your water bill and help the envi­ron­ment in a weekend

Look­ing for a great week­end project for the entire fam­ily? Mak­ing your own rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing bar­rel is an inex­pen­sive, safe and reli­able start to get a rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing sys­tem in place.


  1. 55gal. plas­tic food barrel
  2. 3/4” spigot
  3. 1/2” hose
  4. screen
  5. 6” diam­e­ter plas­tic flowerpot
  6. 1/2” hose barb
  7. 90′ 1/2” hose barb


  1. marker
  2. tin snips
  3. 5/8” & 7/8” pad­dle bit
  4. jig saw
  5. drill
  6. mea­sur­ing tape
  7. wrench
  8. 1/2” & 3/4” tap


Turn flower pot upside down and set it on top of the bar­rel. Place the pot equal dis­tance between the two white caps and approx­i­mately 1/3 over the seam line. With a Sharpie, trace around the flowerpot.

With the cir­cle you just traced as a guide, draw another cir­cle inside the first. Make it about 1/4” smaller; this will be your pattern.

Cut out the smaller cir­cle with a jig saw or hand saw. To get this started, you can drill the ini­tial hole with a pad­dle bit.

With snips or heavy-duty scis­sors, cut a square piece of wire mesh to approx­i­mately the size of the bot­tom of the pot. Fold the cor­ners and place the mesh at the bot­tom of the flow­er­pot. Make sure not to leave any open spaces or gaps. Next, fill about 1/3rd of the pot with 3/4” gravel. This “fil­ter” will set in the hole you made in the bar­rel top.


Water weighs about eight pounds a gal­lon (A full 55 gal­lon bar­rel will weigh over 400 pounds!). It’s impor­tant to set the bar­rel level upon a hard sur­face. In most cases, dirt will turn into sink­ing mud when it gets wet. Build­ing a “sand­box” out of treated lum­ber (reclaimed is prefer­able and often locally avail­able) is a good way to rem­edy this. Fill the box with aggre­gate, gravel, or some other hard mate­r­ial that doesn’t absorb water. Besides keep­ing the bar­rel from sink­ing or tip­ping, the sand­box raises your water supply.


Draw a mark on the front of the bar­rel, 4” from the bot­tom. Do this in the cen­ter, on the side where the large, top hole, over­laps the least. This is where the spigot will go. With your mark­ing as a guide, drill a hole with a 7/8” pad­dle bit.

Tap the hole with a ¾” tap. It is impor­tant to only give this-only a few turns, once it catches. Also, try to make your “tap” as straight as pos­si­ble. It’s best to lay the bar­rel hor­i­zon­tally, while drilling and tapping.

Screw the spigot into the hole you just tapped. Use a large wrench to tighten. Tighten until the spigot is snug. When you notice the out­side o ring begin to “squish”- Stop!


With a 5/8” pad­dle bit, drill a hole about 2” from the top of the bar­rel and fol­low with a 1/2” tap. Screw the 1/2” hose barb into the hole. Slip a few feet of hose onto the barb.


If you wish to “daisy chain” your bar­rel, choose a spot approx­i­mately the same height as the spigot and drill a hole with a 5/8 pad­dle bit, fol­lowed by a 1/2” tap. Screw in a 1/2” hose barb and con­nect appro­pri­ate size hose length (gar­den hose and poly tub­ing for drip irri­ga­tion work well). If needed, you can plug this con­nec­tor with an end cap.


There are many options here. Use your knowl­edge, intu­ition, and skills. Try to chal­lenge your­self to use as few resources as pos­si­ble and re-use mate­ri­als where you can. Often the sim­plest sys­tem works the best. Like my musi­cian friend says: “play with what you got”


There are many great rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing resources on the web. Amer­i­can Rain­wa­ter Catch­ment Asso­ci­a­tion www.arcsa.org and TreeP­eo­ple TreeP­eo­ple are good places to start.

You can call us toll free 1(877) 648‑2657 to order the do-it-yourself-kit.

Hey!Tanks LA
Los Angeles, CA 90041
(877) 648-2657

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