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How to Install a Rainwater Collection System

Capturing rainwater for yard and garden irrigation, with This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook

In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook installs a rainwater collection system for yard and garden irrigation.


1. Sweep the concrete patio clean of all debris.

2. Chip off all concrete bumps and ridges from the patio with a hammer and cold chisel. Sweep the patio clean again.

3. Lay a thick plastic tarp over the patio.

4. Set the rainwater pillow on top of the tarp.

5. Screw the filter box to the house beside a downspout.

6. Disconnect the elbow fitting from bottom end of downspout.

7. Attach two elbows to the downspout to create an offset extension into the filter box.

8. Dry-fit to the filter box a PVC elbow and length of 2-inch-diameter PVC pipe.

9. Connect to the end of the PVC pipe a length of flexible tubing leading to the rainwater pillow.

10. Permanently join together all the PVC pipes and fittings with PVC primer and cement.

11. Install a long strap hanger near the connection between the PVC pipe and flexible tubing. Screw the hanger to the underside of the deck.

12. Use PVC primer and cement to glue the PVC pipe end to the plastic fitting on the end of the flexible tubing.

13. Glue the opposite end of the flexible tubing into the plastic fitting on the rainwater pillow using PVC primer and cement.

14. On the side of the pillow, glue together a short length of PVC pipe, an elbow, and a ball valve.

15. Attach a length of flexible tubing to the PVC pipe and then join the tubing to a ½-horsepower electric pump.

16. Tighten a garden hose onto the threaded fitting on top of the pump.

17. Install an anti-siphoning valve on the opposite end of the hose, then attach a second length of hose.

18. Connect the end of the hose to a lawn sprinkler.

19. Fill the rainwater pillow with a garden hose.

20. Attach an overflow pipe to the filter box. Dig a shallow trench and run the pipe to daylight. Cover the pipe with bark mulch.

21. Connect a second overflow pipe to the rainwater pillow, and run it to daylight, too.

22. Use the handheld remote control to turn on the pump and activate the sprinkler.