A barrel for rainwater collection

Your Complete Guide to Rainwater Collection and Use for Beginners

A barrel for rainwater collection

Rainwater collection provides one of the best ways to conserve water in an environmentally effective way.

Harvesting rainwater for use in agriculture dates back thousands of years and is something that most of us may do to help conserve our valuable water supplies.

Our awareness of the environment and the toll we take on our surroundings may never feel as sharp as it does now, so investing in a rainwater collection system may save you money and protect our planet.

Beginners need not feel intimidated by the concept of rainwater collection because you may start the process quickly and cheaply.

With a bit of know-how and some handy pointers, you may soon collect rainwater to irrigate your garden and plant pots while helping to save a valuable resource.

While rainwater collection may not prove a new concept, it’s something many of us may do as we strive to move our planet towards a greener existence.

Rainwater Collection for Beginners

Rainwater collection in a metal tub

You don’t need loads of expensive equipment for rainwater collection. A simple plastic barrel, some netting or mesh to prevent solids from contaminating the water, and a downpipe diverter are enough to get you started.

If you want to splash out, you can purchase a barrel with a built-in filter and a tap to collect rainwater. Additionally, you can use a rainwater collection converter kit to transform barrels into efficient collection systems.

Check your local laws

Some states have specific laws and regulations concerning rainwater collection.

A few states prohibit the practice because they consider rain a valuable resource, while others place restrictions and caveats about how you collect and use the water.

Back to Basics

The collecting of rainwater for purposes such as drinking, bathing, and irrigation began centuries ago.

Furthermore, the practice remains a necessity in countries where water is scarce. Consequently, rainwater collection presents numerous benefits.

The benefits

Harvesting water proves beneficial in so many ways, and it remains the responsible thing to do, especially in areas with water restrictions.

The Cost

Our water bills prove an expensive yearly cost. When you consider how often we plug the hose into a tap to water the garden or wash the car, you may as well throw dollar bills over your lawn.

Consequently, installing a simple rainwater collection system to irrigate your garden may save you money on your bills in the long run.

Natural goodness

Rainwater contains natural minerals and nutrient trace elements that plants find particularly beneficial.

Consequently, using harvested rain to water the garden and your houseplants benefits the plants and the environment.

Crazy weather

Many of us witness crazy weather patterns throughout the year and the landslides and flooding which results.

Collecting rainwater reduces water runoff and erosion, which lessens the danger and damage caused by torrential rain.

Feel the strain

When you consider how many of us turn on the taps simultaneously, you may well imagine the strain that puts on the water companies.

Using rainwater collection to wash the car or pets or water the garden and for various cleaning chores puts less of a strain on the municipalities’ water supply.


Anyone with a small to medium homestead may find water harvesting helpful in controlling their water supply. After all, rainwater is a relatively clean and free source of water.

Therefore, collecting rainwater promotes self-sufficiency and helps conserve water.

Recommended Read: What Is Homesteading? Facts About This Increasingly Popular Way Of Life


We live in a world in rapid decline. Many of our natural resources are being threatened, and water is one of the most valuable resources on our planet.

Consequently, harvesting rainwater is a socially acceptable and environmentally responsible practice.

Solving a problem

If you experience drainage problems on your property, collecting rainwater may help to solve the issue.

Most water runs off into the garden or into drains that often become clogged, and collecting the rainwater may improve your garden and drains’ condition.

Save money

You don’t need much to start harvesting rainwater, and you can begin with as little as a large plastic bin and a hose. Furthermore, it may save you money on your water bills.


You may easily retrofit a rainwater collection system to existing downpipes and structures. Because the system is so flexible and modular in nature, you can easily reconfigure or expand your setup.

Rainwater Collection Systems for Beginners

It’s not challenging to install rainwater collection systems. For a cheap fix, you need a few essential supplies.

A barrel

Any barrel, wood or plastic, proves the ideal container to store rainwater. It would be best to avoid metal containers as they may contaminate the water. Also, the bigger the container, the better.

You may need to buy a container, in which case, buy one with a built-in tap in the bottom half of the barrel. A collapsible water container makes a cost-effective choice, and you can easily store it when not in use.

Alternatively, a solid tank with a tap may prove the more expensive option but should last longer. Furthermore, some plastic barrels come in a wood effect finish!

A converter

If you find yourself converting an existing container, then a rainwater barrel converter kit may help get you started. It contains everything you need to change your current container into an effective collection system.

The kit includes a FlexiFit diverter to insert into the downpipe, a 31-inch fill hose, a spigot, and a winter hole cover.

Water diverter

To keep the cost down, you can add a simple downspout rainwater collection diverter into your downpipe. Run a piece of hose from the nozzle and feed it directly into your barrel.

Take the strain

Some rain diverters come with a built-in colander. The colander helps to sieve out contaminants such as leaves, twigs, and other debris.

If debris falls into your barrel, it sits in the bottom of the barrel and rots. Consequently, it may contaminate the water or block any drainage taps installed.

Thrifty trick

The budget-conscious amongst us may like this little trick! Perhaps you find yourself using a large plastic bin as your water container, but you need to keep out the leaves and insects. Try using a simple net tried around the container.

The net prevents debris from falling into the collected water, but the mesh remains open enough to allow water to pour into the bin.

You may have a short length of hosepipe coming from your downpipe into your container, so rest the end of the hose on the mesh, and it will continue to function effectively.

Where Can I Use Rainwater Collection Systems?

You can use rainwater collection systems wherever you have a downpipe. However, the systems may not be attractive, so you may wish to place your system in a less conspicuous area.

Alternatively, perhaps you have a greenhouse. You can easily set up a rainwater collection downpipe on a greenhouse at a minimum cost.

A greenhouse rainwater gutter downpipe kit allows you to divert rainwater into a container easily and derives from a robust PVC and aluminum construction.

Rain Chain

Gutters spilling over with rainwater may cause damage to your property. Furthermore, it’s a terrible waste of a valuable resource. Rain chains provide an attractive, modern alternative to water diverters.

As the name suggests, the system consists of a series of chains hung from the gutter at the point where the downpipe sits typically. The rain runs down the chains, and you can place the chains inside a suitable container for rainwater collection.

Several types of decorative rain chains exist on the market and add a beautiful touch to your garden. Furthermore, as the rain trickles down them, the effect proves mesmerizing.

However, a cost-effective alternative consists of hanging lengths of cheap metal chains from the guttering to achieve a similar effect.

This water is contaminated

Don’t let your rain chains sit in the water collector. If the metal comes into contact with the water inside the container, it may start to corrode. Consequently, the corrosion may contaminate the water.

A Word of Warning

Rainwater collection proves ideal for watering your garden, washing the car, and many other chores. However, rainwater isn’t suitable for drinking.

Captured water may not be safe to drink due to the conditions by which you harvest it and how you store the water. Our atmosphere contains numerous pollutants and chemicals, and those impurities work their way into our rainwater.

It requires a significant investment to make rainwater drinkable. It needs testing and purifying. Furthermore, the laws and regulations in your area may prohibit using rainwater for drinking purposes.

Rainwater Collection Explored

A barrel filled with water

Our planet has limited resources and a growing population, and if we don’t act now and do our bit to help, the consequences may prove dire.

Rainwater collection consists of a barrel and a pipe fixed to a downpipe water diverter. The container collects the rainwater, which you may use for irrigation and cleaning chores around the home and garden.

It’s a cost-effective method of using what the planet gives us, and the water is free.

Any large plastic or wooden barrel proves the ideal starting point. Install a water diverter into your downpipe and cover the container with a fine mesh to prevent debris or flies from contaminating it.

You can scoop the water out into watering cans or install a tape to the lower half of the barrel to use with a hose.

Recommended Read: How to Get Rid of Flies?

Sean Kerr lives in Cardiff, Wales, and is a published author with over 10 novels to his name so far and still counting. As well as writing his next bestseller, Sean also runs a successful jewelry-making business and sells his creations online.

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