Ready to roll out the rain barrel

Rain Barrel DiagramAs of 6 p.m. yesterday, Savannah was about 7 inches below the normal yearly precipitation level, so I’m thankful for overnight soaking. The welcome sound of rain hitting my roof reminded me of a household project I’ve been considering for the last year or so: installing rain barrels for use in residential irrigation.

It’s difficult to determine the popularity of rain barrels in Savannah, as they may hidden by landscaping or fencing. In fact, the only rain barrels I’ve seen “in the wild” are situated on the north side of Charles Ellis Montessori School. I’m not aware of any local rain barrel vendors, but they are available at many online retailers including Clean Air Gardening, Rain Barrels and More and GREENCulture.

I’d like to try to make my own, following instructions from the Internet. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find a local source of food grade 55-gallon plastic barrels (with lids). Anyone know where I could score some at low cost or for free? Is anyone else in Savannah currently using store-bought or homemade rain barrels on their properties? I’d appreciate any advice veteran rain catchers might offer.

Image Source: Low Impact Development Center.

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About John Bennett

Transportation, land use, local farming and green building are all potential topics for Sustainable Savannah. The goal is to aggregate content about local events and projects, so there will be a central place to review everything that’s happening. The site is aimed at encouraging collaboration and information sharing between groups and individuals currently engaged in sustainability efforts. The site can also provide a snapshot of Savannah for green-minded people who are considering visiting or moving to the area.

8 thoughts on “Ready to roll out the rain barrel

  1. robby


    Have you tried the local Coca Cola bottling company? They use these barrels and often will part with them cheap (or so I’ve heard)


  2. Steven

    If you are not opposed to buying new barrels, all sizes/shapes are available through McMaster-Carr. ( They are in Atlanta so shipping isn’t terribly expensive.

  3. Steven

    To follow up my earlier post, I am getting ready to build a couple of rain barrel systems. One will be a self contained “green well” system that will capture rainwater from my greenhouse roof and be used actively for a utility sink. The gray water from that will then be pumped to a tower of plants/soil that will filter the water and make it suitable for the irrigation of my garden/plants. I am still in the early stages of planning this system and have a lot to do in order to make it functional, including building the greenhouse. There will also be a lot of time spent engineering the holding tanks and pump systems as well as selecting the proper plants and orientation. But I am excited about the concept. I received a lot of great input last night at the Green Drinks gathering and I look forward to further discussions as I refine my design.

  4. Jane

    The Water Resources planners at the Metropolitan Planning Commission might still have some rain-barrel kits, that include a faucet, mosquito netting, and instructions — but you still must provide your own actual barrel and cut a hole in the lid and a hole in the barrel for the faucet if used. The size of the netting assumes your barrel is something no bigger than a 55-gallon garbage can. I’m not sure if they have any kits left. Here is link to MPC Natural Reources page:

    I know you can get custom size netting, anti-mosquito floating discs, and maybe other supplies from Downtown Hardware on Barnard. The owner has some rain barrels herself, from what she told me.

    I used the kit and a regular round, plastic, 55-gallon garbage can. The best spot for catching water off of the gutterless, gable-less, Georgian, “hipped,” roof of my apartment proved to be where there is a kink along the edge of the metal — and this is in a very public spot, only 8 feet from the road. I had trouble with someone, perhaps sanitation engineers, dumping my barrel! I tied it to the building until I had time to paint it with rain drops and flowers. But that still didn’t get the message across because it got dumped again on garbage day last week. And I lose the mosquito netting every time it’s dumped! Guess I will have to be more obvious, with words on the barrel.

    I can tell you that a single thunderstorm can fill up one can, even with a roof that doesn’t channel water well! (The slow drizzles don’t do me much good, as far as catching water goes.)

  5. Freya Zipperer

    A group of Master gardeners is looking for barrels to make into rain barrels for our community. We can spread the benefits of this idea through our members, but have been unable to find barrels. If anybody out there can help-we will appreciate it.

  6. Dan Bass

    I am looking for a couple of 60 gallon food grade containers with screw type lids, otherwise known as pickle barrels. I plan to make a couple of composters out of them for our garden. For a great blueprint to make one visit
    I would appreciate any help in locating the above.

  7. wood fence

    The very same Mexican president who builds the fence there is telling us that we could not build one. I find that to be very hypocritical. He also criticizes the Arizona immigration laws, but Mexico’s are much harsher. So who is he to criticize anyway?.

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