DIY · Garden · Plants

DIY Cistern Rainbarrel

diy garbage can cistern

I have to start this post with a shout out to my dad who can make a cistern out of literally anything. He has an intricate network of cisterns and pipes linking them to gutters all around my parents house that would make Thomas Jefferson green with envy. I made one fairly simply and cheaply (~$20) out of a 20 gallon trashcan and some hose hardware.

You’ll need:

  • A trashcan (or other large, plastic barrel-like object) with top
  • Two hose faucet connectors (they’re called threaded brass shut off connectors)
  • A sharp blade
  • Some plumbing caulk



1. Trace the threaded side of the connector with a marker or chalk near the bottom of your barrel.


2. Stick the threaded side of your bent connector most of the way through the hole you just made.


3. Make sure your second connector valve is open, and screw it onto the threads of your other connector so that the there is one connector on each side of your trashcan wall.



4. This is going to be a loose fit, so you’re going to want to caulk the outside around the brass connector threads.


5. Next, you’re going to set your rain barrel in its permanent location. If you’re planning on elevating it by setting it on stones or a platform, now is the time to do that since you’re going to have to cut your gutter to the appropriate length to feed water into the cistern. Once you’ve got your trashcan set up, cut your gutter to the appropriate height (for mine, it was about 5-6″ above my trashcan). Then, I reattached the angled elbow piece to my gutter and cut a hole in the trashcan lid to fit the elbow.


Now your cistern is prepped and ready to go. With the threaded brass connectors, it is ready to receive a regular garden hose, and you can shut it on and off using the valve.



Can’t wait to try it out after the next rain! What are you using to make your rain barrels with?


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