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Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are a great way to reduce stormwater runoff and to save water for a dry spell. If you have gutters on your house, you may be able to collect 55 gallons of water during a 1/2-inch rain by directing a downspout to a rain barrel.

Rain Barrel Workshops

To help you get started, our Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program hosts monthly Rain Barrel Workshops, in partnership with Sarasota County Environmental Services.

After the workshops, you may purchase rain barrels for $37 per barrel, including tax.

Search our calendar of classes for a list of upcoming rain barrel classes. Note that online registration is required for the workshops.

Important COVID-19 Operational Updates

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked with our partners at Sarasota County Planning and Development Services to transition our rain barrel workshops and sales to online offerings instead of our previous practice of in-person events. Visit tiny.cc/ufsaraext_rainbarrel to find a workshop or barrel pickup option convenient to you. Please make sure to select a UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County event, since other Extension offices around the state also have rain barrel programs listed at this site.

With just a few mouse or keyboard clicks, register to participate in a free workshop and/or purchase a rain barrel (or barrels) for $37 each, plus tax and fees. Note that barrel purchases must be made through the Eventbrite system by credit card or PayPal payment only, with purchases at pickup locations no longer available.

Please review and confirm your purchase selection and the associated pickup information (also shown in the table below) on Eventbrite prior to completing your transaction. Once you arrive at the pickup location, please follow the signs indicating the flow of traffic. There will also be a sign indicating a waiting point; please wait there until a staff member invites you to pull forward. For the safety of our rain barrel community and our staff, please adhere to the information on the signs.

In the event you need to reschedule your pickup date after you have purchased barrels, please email reportpollution@scgov.net. Please make sure "Rain Barrel" appears in the subject line of the email, and include your name, purchase confirmation number, original pickup date, and new pickup date from the table below.

Workshop schedule
DateTimeLocation
July 25 10 a.m. to noon webinar (was: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Twin Lakes Park)
Aug. 22 10 a.m. to noon webinar (was: Englewood Sports Complex)
Sept. 26 10-11 a.m. webinar (was: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Twin Lakes Park)
Oct. 24 10-11 a.m. George Mullen Activity Center (planned)
Dec. 5 10-11 a.m. UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Twin Lakes Park (planned)
Barrel Pickup Locations
LocationAddress
Englewood Sports Complex 1300 S. River Road, Englewood
George Mullen Activity Center 1602 Kramer Way, North Port
Twin Lakes Park 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota

Building Rain Barrels

Rain barrels (2) in connected seriesYou can build your own rain barrel, rather than purchasing a pre-made (or ready-to-assemble) version, with some basic supplies and a few simple steps. Click on an item below to expand that section and learn more (show all items).

Tools
  • Safety glasses
  • Workbench (or other stable work station)
  • Electric drill
  • Drill bits: 1/8-inch, 3/16-inch, and 1/2-inch to 1-inch
  • Jigsaw
  • Extension cord (if needed)
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Pocket knife
  • Marking pen
Supplies
The barrel:
  • Plastic drum: A 55-gallon drum works best. Barrels that have carried food products (e.g., pickles for a delicatessen) are recommended. Some barrels for cleaning products (e.g., car wash) are OK after thoroughly rinsing. DO NOT use barrels that carried or contacted petroleum or other toxic materials.
The following are all PVC fittings:
  • Adapter: 2-inch male
  • Adapter: 2-inch male slip x 3/4-inch female threaded
  • Adapter: 3/4-inch male threaded x 3/4-inch female threaded elbow (3/4-inch street el)
  • Nipple: 4-inch long, 3/4-inch threaded
The following can be metal or plastic:
  • Sillcock or hose bibb, 3-4-inch
  • PVC cement
  • Teflon™ tape or pipe joint compound
  • Silicone sealant
  • (3) #10 stainless steel sheet metal screws, 3/4-inch
  • Strainer: stainless-steel mesh with plastic rim, 4- to 6-inch diameter
Instructions
  1. Turn the barrel so that the end with no openings is facing up.
  2. Fit the strainer on the end which is facing up so that it lays flat.
  3. Photo-illustration of typical rain barrel componentsMark around the perimeter of the strainer, remove strainer and draw another line about ½ inch inside the perimeter line.
  4. Drill a pilot hole using the large bit just inside the inner drawn circle.
  5. Using the saber saw follow the inner circle line until the circle is removed. Remove the circle if it has fallen into the barrel. This is a good time to make sure the barrel is clean inside.
  6. Drill pilot holes in the strainer flanges and handle using the 3/16-inch bit. Place the strainer on the barrel and mark the hole locations on the barrel.
  7. Drill pilot holes in the barrel using the 1/8-inch bit.
  8. Partially screw into the strainer the #10 screws. Check to make sure the strainer holes match the barrel holes.
  9. Apply silicone sealant to the strainer rim and place the strainer into position. Tighten screws until just snug. (Pat yourself on the back, you have just completed the first part of the barrel).
  10. Place the barrel on its side. Unscrew one of the plastic filler plugs in the other end of the barrel.
  11. Apply PVC cement to the two-inch male adapter sleeve and place the two-inch male x 3/4-inch female threaded adapter inside and press together for a few seconds.
  12. Insert street el into the 3/4-inch hole of the adapter. Use teflon tape or sealant on all threaded parts.
  13. Insert 4 inch nipple into street el.
  14. Screw assembly into barrel. Four-inch nipple will work as a wrench to tighten first two fittings.
  15. Connect water faucet to 4-inch nipple. Hand-tighten to proper position.
  16. Place barrel on level, sturdy base. Direct downspout over the strainer. (Hooray, you now have a functioning rain barrel).
  17. Leave 4-inch or larger air gap between down spout and strainer (if screening water). Mount rain barrel as high as practical to use gravity to increase pressure.