Sustainable Landscaping
healthy lawn care
rain gardens


  • Residential water use increases 40 to 50% during summer months - mostly due to outdoor water use.

  • Stormwater runoff is the leading type of residential non-point source pollution.
Learn more about rain barrels and how they address both of these concerns!

What is a rain barrel
Operation and Maintenance / Where to Purchase Ready-Made
How to Build A Rain Barrel
Additional Resources

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from rooftops to use later for watering plants and gardens. Water collected in a rain barrel would normally pour off your roof directly or flow through roof gutter downspouts and become stormwater runoff. Depending on your yard, this runoff can travel onto paved surfaces and eventually into a storm drain.

See some ready-made rain barrels installed at our local demonstration sites

Why Use Rain Barrels?

Rain barrels conserve water and help lower costs (a rain barrel can save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months).

Rain barrels reduce water pollution by reducing stormwater runoff, which can contain pollutants like sediment, oil, grease, bacteria and nutrients.

Rain barrels are inexpensive and easy to build and install.

Rain barrels can also be arranged to slowly release the collected rainfall to areas that can soak up the water, reducing stormwater runoff and increasing groundwater recharge.

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Operation and Maintenance
Rain barrels should be drained and removed for the winter months to prevent ice damage. It is recommended that you remove the existing downspout and elbow and leave it intact. Store this section for reinstallation in the late fall.

You can then add another downspout section that will need to be custom cut to an appropriate height above your rain barrel. Two connected downspout elbows (forming an S shape) or hinged extension should sit about two inches above the rain barrel inlet hole. Fine mesh screen should be used to cover any openings in the rain barrel to prevent mosquitoes and to trap debris. Rain barrels can be installed upon blocks or a wooden crate to provide height for gravity flow purposes.

Where to purchase?
Ready-made rain barrels range from $89 to $135 each depending on size, style and added features. For local suppliers, visit your local home and garden supply store, garden center, nursery, or hardware store. You can also do an internet search on rain barrels.

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For More Information

See some ready-made rain barrels installed at our local demonstration sites

How to Build A Rain Barrel

Brochure - Safe Use of Rain Barrel Water in the Vegetable Garden

More information on rain barrels - Washington State University Extension