DIY Rain Water Catchment Systems

The average roof collects over 600 gallons of water for every inch of rainfall so why not harvest that water and make use of it. If you live in an area that uses city water this is a much healthier source of water for your garden and much more efficient than paying high water bills in dry times. Rain water catchment systems don’t have to be complicated and depending on the size they don’t have to be expensive either. Here are just a few ideas for your very own diy rain water catchment system.

Using a plastic trashcan is very affordable and when done right it can look ok too. The downside may be the durability of this setup, I don’t imagine this system could last more than a few short years before the material started to deteriorate, but if the cost is right you could build again when you need too or upgrade to something more durable at a later time.



This is a really simple setup to build as all these really are, as you can see from the picture above you have a couple places to attach hoses for the overflow and of course one for using the water. You can buy these pieces separately from a hardware store but they make a kit for this specific purpose called a RainReserve Spigot Kit.



These kits can be used as above for 1 barrel or be used to hook multiple barrels together for more water storage as seen in picture below.


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Maybe you like the concept of using a rubber trash can but you want something a little tougher, something that will last a little longer. Using food grade plastic barrels is a great way to go. These barrels are pretty strong and cheap and can usually be found locally through ads at places like




I have seen pictures of some creative ways of using these to try and make them more visually appealing and about the only way I know of is to just hide them by boxing them in and siding it to match your house. This definitely would ad to the expense so if there is somewhere you can put them that makes them less visible this option may be for you.

I personally use my garage instead of my house to catch the water and having a couple barrels sitting beside my garage looks a little better than sitting by my house. Maybe none of this vanity even matters to you, maybe your about function and don’t care what it looks like, however I am all about encouraging others on there homesteading journey which means even those in a more urban area and when you have neighbors close by you have to consider the way things look if you want to get along and have no troubles with them… just saying.


Another idea for this setup is using IBC tanks, this option is another inexpensive and easy install that allows usually about 250 gallons of storage per tank. If you do this be aware of what your tank was previously used to store and clean it out as good as possible. These tanks can also usually be found on craigslist and i have seen them sell anywhere from $50 to $150 so shop around.




A down side to using tanks like this one is the sunlight will cause algae growth on the inside of your tank. I have never known this to be harmful but if i ever planned on drinking this water in an emergency I would probably take steps to darken the tank. Covering it with a wood siding would solve this problem and also make it look a little nicer also.

These are just a few do it yourself options for building your own rain water catchment systems that will help you take one more step towards being more self sufficient. If you want to know more about setting up a system like this check out a podcast I did on the subject at




Homesteader, Blogger and Podcaster at Small Town Homestead
I am a husband to Mary and father to three daughters. My family and I are striving to become more self sufficient everyday as we grow our own food and pursue a more natural and organic lifestyle.
Posted in Articles, DIY and tagged , , , , .


I am a husband to Mary and father to three daughters. My family and I are striving to become more self sufficient everyday as we grow our own food and pursue a more natural and organic lifestyle.


  1. I got the IBC tank, brought it back home in the trailer, and dumped it in the garden, not having the time to set about putting up guttering to get water off the garage. I was a bit worried as the corrugated roof of the garage is asbestos – can it be harmful for plant watering – should I replace it with plastic or resin before collecting water from it? And how do i attach guttering with simple or no tools if there isn’t any already?

  2. Hi Jane, There is a lot of debate on the internet about water collecting from an asbestos roof and I don’t know enough about the harmful effects it could have to give you a definite answer. Just the idea that there is so much debate would cause me enough concern not to do it. As far as putting up guttering, plastic guttering goes up real easy and the brackets that hold it up are just screwed on, plus it’s pretty inexpensive. Hope this helps.

  3. As far as the roof material this is my opinion and why. Ask yourself is the rain not falling on the roof anyway? Does that water not go to the ground anyway? So are you better off pretending that because you do not catch it it is not a problem? Is the water used to improve the land rather than just erosion? We are in a situation on this planet where perfection can not be attained. Re-roofing is expensive and causes pollution in the manufacture of new materials. Weigh all the options and look at the bigger picture before just saying no. Water is the core of permaculture. Think about possibly using a simple reed bed or even sand filter if you are concerned. Solve one problem at a time – but plan for the ideal. Fear stops so many people – doing something will start the chain of events that can have amazing results.

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