6 Rainwater Harvesting Systems You Can Build Yourself

Every time it rains, the water is like money dripping from the sky. Why not learn how to harvest rainwater and get your free share? According to expert estimates, you could collect about 600 gallons of rainwater for each inch of rain falling on a 1,000 sq ft roof. Harvesting it would mean benefiting of a plenty of free water. Therefore, we thought of sharing with you some of the easiest and best ideas of rainwater harvesting systems.

Why Build Rainwater Harvesting Systems

If doesn’t really matter where you live – as long as you don’t live in an area where it never rains. Building your own DIY rain barrel means you will save a lot of money on utility bills. Whether you want to water your garden or keep your trees happy during sporadic droughts, our rainwater harvesting systems are the way to go.

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garbage can rain barrel


The barrels double as water tanks, helping you with your household’s water needs. You can even use rainwater to wash your walkway or car. The kind of rain barrel you need depends on what you’ll be using the water for. If you want to save some money and skip buying ready-made rain barrels, we have just the thing for you. A list of 7 DIY alternatives you can build with minimum construction skills.

Most North American regions benefit of hearty amounts of rainwater. It means you can catch more or less than a 1,000 gallons of water each year. Use it to grow houseplants, irrigate the lawn, or cultivate a veggie garden. Today’s article hopes to help you gather the necessary information on rainwater harvesting systems. Because we’re talking about equipment you can build at home, we’re only presenting DIY rain barrel ideas.

Before we get started, we need you to cover your bases. Firstly, make sure your local regulation allows you to harvest rainwater in your backyard. In some states, recent ordinances have become a bit particular about what you can and cannot do. Secondly, know that you may need a purifying system if you want to use the collected rainwater for drinking purposes. Otherwise, you may contact some bacteria and diseases.

Now we can finally begin. Each of the suggestions below come with complete how-to instructions that will help you saving water the next time it rains.

1. Large Garbage Barrel

We’ll start you off easy with a simple do-it-yourself rain barrel. While you could use any big water bucket, we recommend making this rainwater collector out of a garbage bin. Note: If it’s an old one, make sure you thoroughly clean it beforehand. To make the rain barrel, simply attach a tap at the lower end with a drill machine. This will allow an easy access to the water collecting inside. For complete instructions on how to make this rain barrel, Better Homes & Gardens can lend you a helping hand.

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2. Chunky PVC Container

For this DIY barrel, a conventional blue bin will do just fine. Although you may need more than just one if your house is in a particularly rainy region. These massive storing containers make perfect rain barrels. Just place them outdoors, anywhere near your home, and wait for the next rainfall. However, if you want a more complicated system, you can also connect the bin to a generator that surfaces the water from collectors placed underground. Here are the parts you will need to create your own rainwater harvesting barrels. You can also find step-by-step instructions with helpful visuals to assist you in your DIY project. To save money on the blue bins, ask your local barrel recycler for help. For health reasons, buy only food grade barrels.

3. Crawl Space Water Tank

Unlike other rainwater harvesting systems on our list, this isn’t technically a DIY project. However, we thought it would be fitting, considering that it’s a tremendously useful way of storing the water your barrels have collected. These water tanks are especially practical for homeowners who don’t want the water catchment system to disrupt their landscape. All you need is a crawl space underneath your home to set up a bladder tank. What a neat way to store rain water!

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4. Garbage Bin Rain Barrel

This simple rainwater harvesting solution is not just extremely affordable, but functional, too. It will cost you around $100 to build it and it’ll work just like the commercial rain barrels on the market. All you need is the right PVC plumbing and electrical conduit fittings – and a bit of electrical skills. This DIY rain barrel uses a trash can or more, depending on your watering requirements. Find detailed instructions at Family Handyman.

5. DIY Plastic Rain Barrel

Do you want to take things a step further? Build a filtering system for your rain barrel, making sure you reduce the maintenance of your rainwater harvesting system. According to the guide, you won’t have clogging problems, which means no clogged up hoses right in the middle of irrigation. The DIY filter is budget-friendly and it connects directly to your barrel. The guide we’re proposing comes from Extension, a program conducted by the University of Illinois.

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6. Medium-sized Rainwater Collector

If you’re ready to up the ante, we present to you a DIY plan that requires a bit more construction knowledge. However, note this rainwater collector best proves its worth on a large lot of land with major watering needs. So if you have to water trees or a big garden each day, read on. Like many other rainwater harvesting systems on here, this medium-sized solution works well even in regions lacking in constant precipitations. The collector helps you save natural resources for occasional droughts.

The Build It Solar guide offers thorough information, walking you through the positioning of the rainwater tank, installing the collection plumbing and the gutters. While several tank types would work equally well for this type of rainwater collector, we recommend going for a polyethylene tank. Not only is it affordable (and significantly less expensive than other materials), but it also offers sun protection. As a result, your water tank may service you for many years. Discourage algae growth in the collector by choosing an opaque, dark green tank.

Header Image: indiacelebrating.com

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Green and Growing Team

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