I’ve wanted rain barrels for a long time - plants do so much better with rain water than our cold and chlorinated city water. But the price of rain barrels is prohibitive - I’ve seen them for about $80 + shipping and this weekend I saw one as we drove by a Home Depot for $105. My monthly water bill is usually between $20 and $30 ( even when there weren’t watering restrictions) so I’ve never felt that the cost was justifiable - oh yeah, and I’m a cheapskate.
We’ve been under a total outdoor watering ban since last fall though, and this spring we’re going to be able to water for 25 minutes every other day, by hand with a hose fitted with a nozzle that shuts off when released, between the hours of midnight and 10 a.m. - in other words not much!
I decided it was time to try out the idea I had for a cheap-o rain barrel. I bought two 32 gallon Mighty-Tuff trash cans for $11 each, two sets of hose repair fittings for .98 each, two shutoff fittings for $1.30 each, and a tube of waterproof silicone adhesive caulk for $3. (We’re up to about $30 for both if you aren’t keeping track.) I drilled a hole near the bottom, attached the fittings, caulked everything, and attached the shutoff. Last night it rained 1/4 of an inch so I put the barrel in a heavy runoff area - we don’t have any gutters on this house - and the barrel filled up about 3/4 of the way. No leaks, no drips, and plenty of pressure to fill up a watering can.
I’m going to cover the top with screen to keep out debris and mosquitoes, move it to a less prominent location, and probably put it up on blocks so I can use gravity a bit more. I think between these and my 25 minutes every other day my gardens will be just fine.