a finished rain barrel
Photo: Laura Moss


Collecting rainwater is a no-brainer for gardening. It's the ugly black barrels we could do without. So here's a plan you can use to build your own rain barrel, one that's both eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. It's a simple project, thanks to an off-the-shelf diverter kit that connects to a downspout. The barrel is essentially a sturdy wood shell built around a repurposed plastic garbage bin that serves as the reservoir. Made of rot-resistant lumber, the barrel goes together with easy lap and butt joints and some deck screws. Decorative exterior battens dress it up, and you can customize them and paint the barrel to fit any style of house or garden.

Follow along as This Old House contributor Christopher Beidel, owner of Pernt, a handmade-furniture company in Brooklyn, New York, leads you through the simple steps it takes to green up your garden.

Download a cut-list to build a rain barrel here.
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    Tools List

    • miter saw
      miter saw
    • bar clamps
      bar clamps
    • drill
    • 1/8-inch drill bit
      -by-3-inch drill bit
    • combination square
      combination square
    • hole saw
      kit-supplied hole saws

    Shopping List

    1x6. Get 10 treated 8-footers for the slats, lid, and floor.

    5/4x4. Get three treated 8-footers for the interior battens.

    1x4. Get one treated 8-footer for the decorative batten.

    1x3. Get two treated 8-footers for the decorative battens.

    4x4. Get one treated 6-footer.

    1¼-, 1½-, 2-inch deck screws

    Door-pull handle

    Square plastic trash bin

    Downspout diverter kit

    ½-inch stainless-steel pan-head screws to secure the landscape fabric.

    landscape fabric or window screening