rain barrel

Rain barrels are one solution to runoff problems. As an added advantage, they are a source of natural rainwater for watering gardens during dry weather.

It adds up! 1 inch of rain on a 1000 sq ft roof yields 623 gallons of water. Here's one way to catch it all — in an 850 gallon tank:

850 gallon rain barrel

A small external or submersible pump can then be used for distributing the water when the water level is low. Of course, there are other containers and configurations that might be adapted to your landscaping. This one cost $650 and was purchased from plastic-mart.com. A website user recently pointed us to similar containers at tank-depot.com.

Find out more about rain barrels in our Site Design Toolkit.

Rain Barrels:
Useful runoff solutions!

Rain barrels are a great way to capture runoff from your roof. Water captured in barrels is a free source of water for watering gardens and lawns, with the added advantage of helping the environment. Rain water is softer than tap water; it has no chlorine, lime, or calcium. It has less sediment and dissolved salts and is warmer than tap water. It is excellent (some say better) for watering plants and for window or car washing.

Why is this important?

Runoff from impervious surfaces adds up. Too much water in the streams erodes their channels and destroys habitat. Excess runoff from yards and gardens can cause erosion problems and can wash things like lawn fertilizer into the stream causing nutrient overloads.

Where can I find a rain barrel?

Rain barrels can be purchased from many garden catalogs or you can make your own following directions found on a number of web sites. If you attach a soaker hose to your rain barrel you can trickle water locations under the eaves or shaded by trees or a garage. This allows gardens to grow in these locations and saves ever having to use a sprinkler.

Links for making rain barrels:

Make sure to screen your barrel and elevate it off the ground enough to allow gravity feed of water to gardens. The water should be used regularly to reduce the risk of mosquitoes.

To buy a rain barrel or a parts kit, there are many garden catalogs or web sites -- here are some examples:


  • Duluth Barrel Works
    Duluth, MN
    ph: 218-591-9901
    Oak rain barrels (recycled wine barrels).
  • ECO Living Space
    517 Garfield Avenue
    Duluth, MN 55802
    ph: 218-213-8616
    55 gallon, recycled plastic barrels with screen on top and spigot.
  • Barrel Depot
    Twin Cities
    ph: 952-221-2113
    Oak rain barrels (recycled wine barrels) and adapter kits.


Rain chain

A rain chain provides added beauty to a rain garden. Click here for more information. Search for "rain chains" on the web for more distributors.