How To Use a Rain Barrel for a Sprinkler System

Mother Nature provides water that, although unsuitable for human consumption, can be used to water the plants. Rain water, when uncollected, goes to waste. Why pay for water to water your flowerbeds or lawn when you can use a rain barrel to collect the rain runoff? You save water and you save money at the same time.

Below are the steps in using a rain barrel for a sprinkler system in your home.

  • Prepare the materials for your sprinkler system. You will need a rain barrel, downspout diverter, garden hose, soaker hose and concrete blocks. These items can be purchased in hardware stores, gardening supply stores and online. Rain barrels come in different shapes, designs and capacities (34 – 300 gallons). You can opt for a simple rain barrel or something that is decorative.
  • Set up your downspout diverter. Follow the installation instructions that came with your downspout diverter. Many downspout diverters use a leader hose. With a leader hose, your rain barrel does not have to be directly beside the downspout. If you don’t want to use a downspout diverter and keep things simple, you can always put the rain barrel directly under a downspout. The downspout should be modified in order to accommodate the rain barrel underneath it.
  • Position the rain barrel. Aesthetics come into play at this point. If you purchased a decorative rain barrel, you would probably want to locate it out in the open. A plain rain barrel on the other hand can be concealed behind a bush, shrub, shed or fence. You may want to place your rain barrel away from sunlight to prevent algae growth. To improve the flow of water from the rain barrel, place it on top of concrete blocks. An elevated water barrel has better water flow compared to one directly situated on the ground.
  • Install the rain barrel’s plumbing. Most store-bought rain barrels come with plumbing kits. Read the manufacturer’s installation instructions. The faucet should be situated at the bottom of the rain barrel. When installing the faucet, make sure you have easy access to it once the rain barrel’s plumbing is done.
  • Install the sprinkler system. Attach the garden hose to your rain barrel’s faucet. The length of the garden hose will depend on how far the sprinkler system will be from the rain barrel. Attach the soaker hose directly to the garden hose. You can have more than one soaker hose if you use a hose splitter.
  • Adjust the amount water. You can control the quantity of water that comes out of the sprinkler system. Open the faucet handle according to how much water you want to come out of the rain barrel.
  • Tips:
    • Purchase a timer and attach it to your faucet so you don’t have to watch over your sprinkler system while it is doing its job. You can set the number of minutes the sprinkler system will run.
    • If your rain barrel does not have a screen mesh on top of it, install one. This will prevent leaves, dirt and debris from entering the rain barrel.

Collecting water in a rain barrel then connecting it to a sprinkler system is a great way to water your plants using free water. Rainwater naturally runs off from the roof and is wasted when not collected. Buy your tools and materials for creating a rain barrel based sprinkler system from your local gardening supplies stores and hardware stores. Try this environmentally friendly watering system and help the planet conserve water.


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