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Watershed Education: Rain Barrels

Make Your Own Rain Barrel

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Step-By-Step Guide: How to Build a Rain Barrel

Obtain the Parts

Food Grade Barrel
To obtain a recycled, food grade rain barrel, please contact:
Keep Nebraska Beautiful- Materials Exchange Program at (402) 486-4622 or (402) 486-4562

Overflow (on side):
2 - 90° 1 ½" PVC pipe elbows
1 10 ft. 1 ½" PVC pipe sections (Only need 5 ft., but pipe is sold in 10 ft. sections)

1- 1 ½" PVC male threaded adaptor union
• Overflow alternative:
1 - 90° 1 ½" PVC pipe elbow
1- 1 ½" PVC male threaded adaptor union
1- 6 ft roll of 2" backwash hose
1- 1 ½" 2" metal worm clamp
Rainwater Entry (on top):
1 6" NDS green grate
1 -6-7" metal worm clamp
1 12" square of aluminum window screen
Spigot (on Front):
1 ¾" brass spigot
2 12 oz. can of Krylon Fusion spray paint (or other spray paint with plastic bonding additive)

Drill the Holes

For the average rain barrel, you will need at least 3 holes:

  • 1. Rainwater entry, on top of the barrel cut with an electric saw

  • 2. Overflow, on side of the barrel, cut with a 1 7/8" hole saw

  • 3. Spigot hole, on front, lower side of the barrel, cut with a 1" spade bit

Assemble the Barrel

Attach the Spigot

  • Obtain the 0.75" brass spigot and screw into the drilled spigot hole. Once the barrel is painted, you may want to seal the threads with silicone sealant or teflon tape.

Assemble the Rainwater Entry Grate

  • 1. Gather the parts

  • 2. Fold the 12" window screen around the outside of the grate

  • 3. Fit the metal clamp around the window screen and the grate.

  • 4. With a partner, tighten the clamp with a screw driver

  • 5. Set completed rainwater entry grate in top hole of the rain barrel

Assemble the Overflow

  • 1. Find the PVC threaded adapter

  • 2. Screw the PVC adapter into the overflow hole

  • 3. Attach PVC Elbow.
    Attach a PVC coupling here if you are assembling the barrel to overflow into another rain barrel rather than the ground.

  • 4. Fit 3' section of PVC pipe into elbow

  • 5. Attach the second PVC elbow

Finish Barrel


  • Spray paint for plastics should be added after the barrel has been washed and sanded
  • To elevate the barrel for use, this picture displays 2 cement blocks
  • The PVC pipe can be cut to different lengths depending on where the barrel is located, what's underneath of it, etc.

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Rain Barrel Classes are offered at Southeast Community College. You will come away with a fully assembled rain barrel that looks like this, for $49. For more information, contact Ellen Wright at or 441-7075.


Watershed Education: Rain Barrels