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Water-conserving rain barrels, nearly free!

February 24, 2016
Typical Rain Barrels from Rain Barrel Int'l

Typical Rain Barrels Int’l products

The winter’s not over; it still might rain.

Seriously, if you’re want to save water for your garden or lawn, this is a great deal. You buy rain barrels at a reduced rate, you install them at your house. Often a local official comes to check that you’ve actually installed them and aren’t trying to rip them off. In some towns such as Santa Monica, you must annually confirm your continued use of the barrels.

The really good part is that after you have installed the barrels, you get reimbursed the cost up to $75/barrel, 4 barrels maximum, for your expense! We installed four barrels last year and have collected many hundreds of gallons, much of which we’ve already used. Our barrels were $85 each and SoCal Water Smart paid for the entire amount (in 2015 they paid up to $100 per barrel).

Rain barrel pair (C. Almdale 2-25-16)

Rain barrel pair (C. Almdale 2-25-16)

You will probably have to do a little modification on some of your roof /gutter downspouts, but I bet you’ll be surprised how much fog drip you will also collect in the non-rainy season.

Chain, no downspout (C. Almdale 2-25-16)

Chain, no downspout (C. Almdale 2-25-16)

The barrels cost $94-139 if bought from their website, the same price range as nearly every other rain barrel outlet. But you can pre-order and pre-pay $85 each for them and pick them up at one of their “events.” This must be done no later than the Wednesday prior to the event you’d like to attend. If they have extra barrels on hand, they bring them to the event. The event gives you all the information you need to start saving water.

Here is the link to their events:
Rain Barrels Int’l:
Their next event in the Santa Monica area is Sat., 2/27/16, 12-1:30 PM, at the Tree People HQ, 12601 Mulholland Dr., on the valley side (north) of Mulholland at Franklin Canyon Drive. If you want to get some rain barrels at this event, you must prepay no later than Weds. 2/24. They do this again, same time, same location, on 3/19. Directions!

Ex-garden hose piece connects barrels (C. Almdale 2-25-16)

Ex-garden hose piece connects barrels
(C. Almdale 2-25-16)

[NOTE from Chuck Almdale]  We picked up our 4 terra-cotta colored 58-gallon rain barrels on 10/24/15 at the Tree People “event.”

Replaced overflow spigot (C. Almdale 2-25-16)

Replaced overflow spigot (C. Almdale 2-25-16)

They distributed the barrels, gave out some informative fliers and off we went. Four barrels fit easily into our VW bus; we might have been able to fit in eight barrels. There was no slide-show presentation. I modified the outlet spigots so they didn’t point slightly upward.

Rain Barrels Int’l describes their barrels as follows:
All of the barrels we use are recycled food grade barrels we purchase before they are disposed of into landfills. It is a WIN – WIN situation all the way around. Please help our environment by not only saving water, but by keeping these barrels out of landfills.


  • Dimensions vary slightly – approximately 40″ tall with 23″ diameter
  • 55 + gallon capacity (some barrels slightly larger)
  • Brass ¾” spigot for garden hose attachment
  • Screen on top to prevent mosquitoes from accessing water
  • Side brass overflow where a hose can be attached
  • Made from recycled plastic food grade barrels
  • Barrels retail in stores for $94.00 to $139.00

Thank you to Grace M. for the alert
[Lu Plauzoles & Chuck Almdale]

  1. February 25, 2016 10:30 am

    Hi, Chuck. Thanks for the info on rain barrels. I may have a down spout near my front porch potted plants that is appropriate for a rain barrel. However, it is at the same level as my plants. How did you arrange for flow from your barrels — i.e., did you build an elevated surface for them, as shown under the far left, blue barrel in the photo of the four photos? Thanks for your thoughts on this! Warmly, Marilyn Judson


    • Chukar permalink*
      February 25, 2016 12:06 pm

      Hi Marilyn:
      We didn’t have gutters until recently, and we don’t have downspouts, but have chains hanging down out of the gutter-bottom hole where the downspout goes, reaching to about 1″ above the screened hole at the top of the barrel.
      For downspouts, various google sites (there are a bunch) suggest: 1. Saw off*** the bottom of your downspout; 2. replace it with an “elbow”***** joint angled 30-45″; 3. Attach enough downspout to the elbow joint to reach the top of your barrel.
      *** You’ll need to figure out how high to saw off the downspout by deciding where to place the barrel and working backwards with elbow & extra piece to see what’ll work.
      ***** Available wherever downspouts & gutters are sold.
      That said: We have 4 blocks under each barrel: a 2″x18″x18″ paving stone, topped by two 8″x8″x16″ cinder blocks, topped by another 2″x18″x18″ paving stone. This gets the barrel up 12” above ground.
      I pasted some photos of our barrel setups into this posting.


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