Did you know about 35% of the water used in every household goes for watering lawns or gardens? This has to change, a rain barrel will collect and store the rainwater that would have otherwise headed off to the drains. There are plenty of benefits to collecting this rainwater, but it’s not always easy to determine which are the best rain barrels or water butts to buy.
We will help you find a high quality, reasonably priced rain barrel for your garden or backyard. In addition to our expert reviews, this article will also give you insight into how to choose the right barrel, its benefits, and how to install it in your backyard.
Benefits of Having a Rain Barrel
There are numerous reasons why it’s a good idea to have a rain barrel. But here are the four most important benefits you should know about:
1. Reduce runoff: rain barrels help reduce the flow of rain runoff. This runoff will also pick up the soil, pesticides, and any other contaminant from your land and often transports it into areas you just don’t want it to go. Preventing contaminants flowing down driveways or lawns, onto vegetable or flower beds for example.
2. Keep plants and soil healthy: tap water contains chemicals like fluoride that over time accumulate in the soil and can cause potential harm to plant roots. Rainwater, on the other hand, doesn’t contain the same chemicals found in tap water. Plants in the garden can actually benefit from rainwater as it helps prevent salt buildup in the soil and encourage root strong root development.
3. Saves households money: by using rain barrels, homeowners can save up to 1300 gallons of water for the spring and summer seasons, saving money on water bills.
4. It’s handy in a drought: if you live in an area where water is scarce in the summer, having a rain barrel or two will come very handy. Temporary hosepipe bans can spell disaster for your garden when it needs watering the most, so a rain barrel is a great insurance policy to keep your garden vibrant.
Best Rain Barrels and Water Butt Reviews
Our in-house gardeners and growers have tested dozens of water barrels and irrigation products for their effectiveness, affordability, and general practical application. There are no fundamental differences between a rain barrel and a water butt. Water butt is a common term used mainly outside of America, where the term rain barrel is preferred.
Our list of the best rain barrels and water butts will help you quench your garden’s thirst. Here are the best rain barrels according to our experts experience and trials, taking into account customer feedback and comments on major retail sites and gardening forums. So, let’s get into our best rain barrel reviews…or water butts…, okay lets go, in no particular order.
This 50-gallon rain barrel from Good Ideas is made from the highest-quality BPA-free UV resistant polyethylene resin, which means it won’t rot, rust or mold.
The flat-back design of this barrel makes it super easy to connect several barrels together if necessary. It also comes with a brass spigot for filling up buckets or attaching a hose to water your lawn.
What we love about these artificial wooden rain barrels is how authentic they look. The oak-grain texture is available in four colors and there is a handy plastic mesh screen to keep out debris and bugs.
Customer reviews: Over 1300 users rated this product 4.2 out of 5, with the majority pleased about the barrel’s durability and design.
- Easy to set up
- Very Sturdy High quality material
- Available in brown, black, green, and tan
- Nothing of note
A really neat small rain barrel from BeGreen. With a 100L (20 gallon) capacity it offers the option of a slim water butt to stand flush to your buildings and not take up too much space. This product also comes with a stand, rainwater diverter kit and and a spigot tap that is compatible with HozeLock and Gardena hose connectors.
Made from recycled plastics this option will appeal to anyone with a limited amount of space as it occupies a relatively small foot print and can be daisy-chained.
Customer reviews: A super popular water but with an average score of 4.6/5 from all of the users across major retail platforms and gardening forums.
- Slim design is a great space saver
- Supplied with stand, spigot tap and diverter kit
- Excellent build quality
- No pre-drilled hole in lid for downpipe
- Plastic spigot tap
The Cascata has really achieved a nice authentic looking terra cotta urn from modern plastics. This unusual design will work very well in a wide range of gardens looking to maintain aesthetic setting and avoid the standard economical green or blue plastic rain barrel design.
Fitted with a corrosion resistant screen guard, a solid brass screw tap and an unusual addition of a 150cm short hose. The water butt is designed with a deep lid to allow for planting, although you will need to plant a shallow rooted species.
Customer Reviews: This is a relatively niche product only available from the UK so there are not thousands of customer reviews. But the average score of the happy customers stands at 4.9/5 with all of them very happy with the quality and specific feedback about how realistic the terra cotta effect is for a plastic molded water butt.
- Very realistic terra cotta effect
- Excellent build quality
- Perfect for a prominent position in your garden
- Does not come with a stand
This novel Urn shape rain barrel from Good Ideas will appeal to anyone looking for something a little bit different and ornate. It comes with a mesh cover to prevent debris entering the barrel and blocking outflow. There is also a brass water butt spigot tap that will protect you from rust or breakages.
The capacity of this 65-gallon rain barrel is nice size for the average user, however due to the shape and design of this barrel you may find it is more challenging to daisy chain or join on to other rain barrels. So best to use it as a stand alone rain barrel.
Despite the Urn design it come as a flat back rain barrel allowing you to neatly stand flush with outbuilding walls.
Customer reviews: This product is rated 4.1/5 across all sites. Despite the novel design that appeals to many, there are some instances where customer found it difficulty to install, and the overflow is at the back of the barrel, leaving some customers concerned about water or damp damage.
- Available in 5 colors black, terra cotta, khaki, dark granite and light granite
- Brass rain barrel spigot tap
- Flat back design
- Not suitable for daisy chaining barrels
- Overflow is behind the barrel which release the water against your wall
Another realistic-looking oak effect wooden rain barrel from RTS. This 50-gallon rain barrel won’t fade, rot, or get damaged by insects. Its flat back will sit snugly against your home’s wall and can be linked to several barrels if you require more rainwater.
The front-side overflow prevents excess water from flooding your home’s outside walls. However, we weren’t very impressed with this overflow as it detracts from the overall look of the barrel!
The spigot, on the other hand, gets our thumbs up as it makes filling a watering can super easy.
Customer reviews: over 500 users rated this barrel 4.4 out of 5 stars. Some were disappointed to find the back of the barrel becoming bowed once it gets full.
- A flat back rain barrel
- Set up is easy, ready to use
- Would suit daisy chaining multiple barrels to increase storage capacity
- Plastic rain barrel spigot tap
The Charles Bentley 205L Water Butt is a similar but larger design to the BeGreen model. With twice the water storage capacity the Charles Bentley also comes with a stand, water diverter kit and tap. We should point out the spigot tap is a standard design and not compatible with HozeLock style connectors.
Its a very solid rain barrel with a lockable lid. This design suits daisy chaining multiple barrels to scale up your water storage capacity if you need to at a later date.
Customer Reviews: Plenty of positive feedback with this popular product, it has to be one of the best rain barrels on our list with an average score of 4.6/5.
- Very strong build
- Lockable Lid
- Stand and water diverter kit included
- Plastic Spigot Tap
This is a genuine Oak Whisky Barrel that has been re-purposed as a water butt / rain barrel. It has a capacity of 200L or 45-gallons and due to it being genuine oak is very heavy approx. 50 K.g or 120lbs. So this may limit your ability to use this barrel raised off the ground.
Fitted with a brass spigot tap. Yep that’s about it really. It’s like buying that really old house where you move in and realize you have to do all the work yourself. But at the end you have something pretty special.
The lid sits on top of the barrel, no crew or lock mechanism. There no stand and no filter of screen and no diverter kit. But once you’ve put a little bit of thought behind it, you will be left with a very unique feature in your garden, that doubles up as a rain barrel.
Customer Reviews: Customer who are looking for something unique absolutely love this product and score is 4.9/5. But if you’re looking for plug and play convenience, this is not the choice for you.
- Genuine authentic wooden barrel
- Brass spigot tap
- Outstanding and unique garden feature
- It’s rustic nature means you will need to accept a bit of extra work to install it
Need a bigger capacity? How about this foldable 60-gallon barrel from Goplus. It’s very easy to store and carry, plus the green surface will naturally match your lawn. Available in multiple sizes as 53, 60, and 100-gallon rain barrel options.
The barrel is made from corrosion-proof PVC mesh cloth, which makes it withstand all weather conditions.
You’ll be pleased to know how easy it is to use this barrel. Simply place it under a gutter and let rainwater run through the mesh screen top. Once the barrel is fully filled, the excess water will flow out from the top drain pipe.
Customer reviews: users found this barrel easy to assemble with no leaks after a storm. However, the product was given 3.6 stars out of 5 as some customers were disappointed with the barrel collapsing under its weight after it was full of rain. People suggested securing the barrel on a sturdier base like cinder blocks to keep it in place.
- Quality material
- Easy to use
- Available in 53, 60, and 100-gallon sizes
- Not very sturdy when full compared to standard rain barrels
Still not happy with the capacity of our reviewed barrels? Then consider this impressive 264-gallon barrel from Hosana. It is made from high-quality PVC waterproof coating both inside and outside as well as an intermediate layer of nylon mesh lining.
This dark green collapsible water tank is super easy to assemble and can be stored away in your shed or garage for winter. It comes with a spigot filter with two tap switches on the middle and bottom of the tank.
Customer reviews: since this product has only just come to the market, it doesn’t have any user reviews yet. But considering the high-quality materials and large capacity, we think it will be rated highly.
- Large capacity
- High-quality build
- Not very sturdy when full compared to standard rain barrels
The Planta wide neck water butt is a useful addition to our top 10 list of the best rain barrels. Its basic, super robust high density plastic and provide you with the possibilities of taking this re-purposed item and turning it to an ecological purpose.
The wide neck design of these barrels make any DIY rain barrel project far easy to execute. The wide neck allows easy access to the inside of the barrel of drilling or cutting hole to set up a daisy chain water barrel system. I used a number of these on my old allotment a few year back, proposed up on top of old wooden pallets, catching water off my tool shed roof.
Customer Reviews: An overall customer score of 4.4/5. Most people who buy this type of water butt have a DIY head on or just keep things real simple. The density and longevity of this product cannot be questioned.
- Super durable thick plastic walls
- Wide neck lid, perfect for DIY projects
- Plastic spigot tap
- Basic product, no extras
What to Look for When Buying Rain Barrels?
When deciding on the best rain barrel for your yard, here are some factors to bear in mind when you’re buying rain barrels:
1. Consider how much water you need. Once you’ve figured out how much rainwater you need or want, it will help you decide on the barrel size. In case you’re not sure, have a look at your last water bill to see how many cubics of water you’ve used. Deduct 35% of the total number to get a rough idea of how much water you need.
2. UV protection matters: most rain barrels are either green or brown. But why is this? It is because green or brown barrels will help protect the water from UV rays and prevent algae growth. So when choosing a rain barrel, make sure it’s either one of those colors.
3. A tightly sealed lid: to prevent pests, algae, or insects from entering your collected rainwater, it is important for your rain barrel to have a secure lid.
4. And finally, the barrel must have a mesh screen filter. This is the most important feature to keep residue away. Aside from pushing debris into a rain barrel, storms or heavy downpours can also damage the barrel’s inside. This is why a mesh filter is a must to stop these mishaps.
Rain Barrel Kits & System Fitting
An important accessory that every rain barrel should have is a rain barrel diverter kit. It features an overflow design that improves water collection during heavy downpours as well as keeps the excess water away from your home’s walls and foundation.
There are two types of rain barrel kits available on the market. These are:
The in-line rain barrel diverter kit works by redirecting any excess water back into the downspout instead, preventing the overflow from spilling out all over your external walls and potentially causing damp or flood damage. This type of rain barrel diverting kit is compatible with any standard downspout of 2×3 or 3×4 inches. It comes with a connector hose, couplers, and a barrel connector.
Another advantage of an in-line diverter kit is its easy-to-clean filter. While most rain barrels are already equipped with a mesh screen filter to keep the rainwater as clean as possible, the additional filter on the diverter kit can ensure even cleaner rainwater.
Thanks to the simple and practical design of the in-line diverter kit, it definitely won’t stand out in your yard or attract attention.
There is also the DIY rain barrel kit that comes with a detailed instruction manual, so all you need is the rain barrel and the necessary tools to install the rain barrel kit.
A DIY diverter kit includes the following materials:
- Rain Barrel Spigot
- Winter hole cover
- Fill hose
- Water seals
- Hole saw set
- FlexFit diverter
The role of FlexiFit diverter is to rechannel the excess water into the downspout instead of the rain barrel in order to prevent overflow. This will prevent water from potentially damaging your home.
The installation of a DIY diverter rain barrel kit is easy and it’s compatible with standard size downspouts just like the in-line model. Any top-filling rain barrel can be connected to this diverter kit, and since it’s available in packs of 2, you can have more than one barrel in your system.
How to Install and Use a Rain Barrel
Every rain barrel has its own specific installation instructions, but there are some general guidelines that will give you an idea. Follow these simple steps to install your rain barrel:
Step 1. Choose the right location for your barrel by determining where rainwater overflows. This is usually from the gutters. Once the location of your barrel has been chosen, think about the surface you’ll be placing it on as the barrel should be around 12 inches off the ground for maximum stability. Cinder blocks and pavers work very well as sturdy bases.
The elevation of a rain barrel is important to improve access to the spigot tap and also to allow gravity to help with the water flow and pressure.
Step 2. To prepare the ground, use a level, and align the base to ensure the barrel is totally stable. Place two cinder blocks beside each other on top of the two pavers. You can then place the rain barrel on top of the base.
Step 3. Now it’s time to install the downspout. If it’s too long, shorten it using a hacksaw. The elbow can then be attached over the downspout.
Step 4. Next, insert the diverter into the downspout and make sure it’s secured using screws. The diverter can be connected to the barrel via a flexible hose.
Step 5. To test the barrel, grab your hose and run some water through the gutters and into the barrel to check for any issues.
Step 6. Now place the lid on the barrel and wait for rain.
Daisy Chain Multiple Rain Barrels
If you have space it’s a great idea to ‘daisy-chain’ multiple rain barrels. Connect the second barrel to the first by using pipework and you can add on as many additional rain barrels as you have space for.
Best Ways To Use Water From A Rain Barrel
Rainwater has many great uses and best of all; it’s free!
If you’re wondering how to use the collected water from your rain barrel, let me give you some suggestions:
1. Water your pets or livestock.
2. Irrigate your lawn.
3. Water your outdoor and indoor plants.
4. Rinse out your glass bottles before disposing them in a recycling bin.
5. Remove dust or debris from your garden furniture using a spray hose and the collected water.
6. Wash away the dirt from your driveway, patio and walkways using the harvested water.
7. Save money on water by flushing your toilets with the collected rainwater.
8. Fill up your outdoor pond or fountain.
9. Add it to your organic compost.
10. Pre-wash your car, then do a final rinse with the hose
Simple but great ways to use this free resource that natures rains down on us, don’t you agree?
But in case you’re wondering whether you can use rainwater for drinking or cooking, the simple answer is no. Standing water quickly becomes a breeding ground for all manner of insects and bacteria.
Rainwater isn’t as pure as you might think, so unless you boil, filter, and disinfect the water, (who has time to do all that!) it won’t be safe to ingest.
Best Rain Barrels Conclusion
You will have realized by now, there are many benefits to using rain barrels to collect rainwater; it’s good for the soil, the lawn, and it saves you money on your water bill, so both your wallet and plants will thank you for it!
If you’re still in two minds about choosing the best rain barrel, take into account how much rainwater you want to collect. Our reviewed barrels come as 50, 60, or 264-gallon capacities to meet your needs.