How To: Rain Barrel Watering System

How To: Rain Barrel Watering System

Maxwell Ryan
Feb 23, 2009

Title: Rain Barrel Watering System
Name: Breanne
Time: 1 Day
Cost: about $700

This remarkably ambitious project seems simple if you follow Breanne's detailed instructions. Her roof garden is amazing, but you can use this on a much smaller scale as well. Click above for the pics and head below for all the instructions. Give Breanne a THUMBS UP if you find this project helpful....



(6) 55-60 gallon rain barrels with at least 4 spigots $75 each
(1) downspout flexible elbow $12
(7) 6' washing machine hoses $8 each
(1) 3/4" garden hose $30
(1) one horsepower shallow well pump with 5-gallon tank $100
(1) 10 gallon plastic tote box $10 utility knife, adjustable wrench, teflon tape, drill (36) cinder blocks $1 each (2) 1 3/4" to 3/4" pipe thread reducers
(2) 3/4" male pipe thread to 3/4" male hose thread adapters
(1) 3/4" metal pipe, 6" long, threaded on both ends 1 3/4" on/off valve 1 wooden stand (we made ours from 2x4 scraps) to keep the pump off the ground Outdoor extension cord $9 8 washers 4 1/4" bolts


1. Prop each rain barrel on six cinder blocks in a row. The first rain barrel should be directly under the downspout.

2. Connect each rain barrel to the one next to it at a lower spigot (not the overflow spigot at the top). Each rain barrel except the last one should have two hose connections. The last one will only have one.

3. Disconnect the downspout and attach the flexible elbow. Position the elbow above the screen on the top of the first rain barrel.

4. Now connect the upper spigot on the first rain barrel to a washing machine hose. Direct this hose to where the original downspout drained (or wherever you want to direct the overflow).

5. Set the wooden stand near the first rain barrel. (The stand should not be very tall - it is extremely important to keep the rain barrels and the water level higher than the pump to maintain the prime). Attach the well pump to the wooden stand with the bolts and washers. Use the drill to make holes for the bolts and the wrench to tighten them.

6. Cover pump with an upside-down plastic 10 gallon tote bin to protect it from rain. Cut out three small holes with the utility knife to access the switch, the inlet port and the outlet port.

7. Connect a low spigot on the first rain barrel to the pump inlet (should be on the side) with the remaining washing machine hose.

8. Connect the garden hose to the pump outlet (should be on the top). Whenever attaching pipe threads, use the teflon tape to create a seal. When it rains, the rain barrels should fill up evenly in the row. When ready to use, plug the well pump into the extension cord and turn on the switch. There will be a good amount of water pressure generated from the pump (more so than having a hose directly connected to the rain barrel spigot). We are able to get enough pressure to water a garden on a second story rooftop.


We went to Greenmaker Supply, a local green building store for the rain barrels. We found the well pump on ebay.

Give Breanne a THUMBS UP if you find this project helpful....

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