Water costs a lot of money and then you also have to pay for sewage. Then how much better is it to be able to capture free rainwater and use it to water your plants. Large water collection tanks are usually not worthwhile for smaller gardens. Rain barrels or barrels, which are available in great shapes and colors today, do the trick here. You can set it up and connect it yourself and often hold considerable amounts of water. You can read in our text how to use the containers in the garden and what needs to be considered.


  • An awful lot of different barrels
  • Different sizes, materials, colors and shapes
  • It is also worth collecting rainwater from the carport, the shed, the greenhouse
  • Many vessels are very decorative
  • The days of blue or green barrels reminiscent of cucumber barrels are over
  • Capacity – from 60 to 2,000 liters
  • Large tanks hold up to 10,000 liters
  • The large ones are usually buried underground as rainwater collection tanks
  • Classic bin made of plastic, tried and tested for decades
  • New models – better adapted to the garden
  • Integrate significantly more
  • Wooden rain barrel, lined with foil on the inside
  • Always use a cover

Rainwater harvesting in the garden

There is no doubt that it makes sense to collect rainwater and use it when needed. However, there are discussions among experts as to how far the water should be used. Everyone agrees that using the collected water for watering is absolutely beneficial for both garden and house plants. It is disputed whether rainwater is also suitable for household use, i.e. for toilet flushing and washing machines. Many pros don’t think that’s a good thing. You’re more in favor of rainwater infiltration, but that’s another topic. Rain barrels or rain barrels for garden irrigation are generally recommended without reservation.

differences, advantages and disadvantages

Rain barrels are available from around 15 euros. There are hardly any upper price limits, depending on the size and material of the vessels. I have collected visually quite different collection vessels here in order to create a general overview.

  • Garantia Rocky wall tank (400 l), square container in gray stone look that looks like a wall, 100 cm high x 120 cm wide x 40 cm deep, material – plastic, small space requirement, water withdrawal through outlet tap or universal water hose, UV-stable and weather-resistant, a good 300 euros
  • 4rain Classic wall tank (650 l), tall, flat oval tank, available in several colors, plastic material, striking shape, 210 cm high x 80 cm wide x 60 cm deep, requires little space, a good 200 euros
  • Garantia Woody wall tank (350 l), rustic wood look – deceptively real, material – plastic, available in two colours, 100 cm high x 124 cm wide x 40 cm deep, requires little space, water can be drawn off through a tap or universal water hose, very UV-stable and weatherproof, about 300 euros
  • Gabion water barrel (750 l), diameter 130 cm x 80 cm high, with stable foil insert and thick separating fleece, so that it is not damaged, stones not included in the delivery price, requirement – approx. 480 kg, water must be scooped, no cover available, Gabion basket approx. 200 euros
  • Garantia rainwater tank 2in1 (300 l), plastic, available in several colours, the special feature is the roof that can be planted (integrated plant bowl), water can be drawn off through a tap or universal water hose, 145 cm high x 62 cm wide x 62 cm deep, oblong shape , wider at the top than at the bottom, approx. 200 euros
  • Old wooden wine barrels – mostly from Italy, France or Spain, material – oak wood, 200 to 500 liter capacity, with tap, usually with lid, from about 100 euros
  • Beckmann rain barrel made of brown wooden slats (impregnated), from 100 to 6,000 l capacity, non-toxic foil insert, very solidly made, does not have to be emptied in winter, offered as a kit, for the 100 l barrel – approx. 50 euros, for the 6,000 l barrel about 600 euros
  • Rain barrel in the form of a tree stump or boulder (300 l), made of plastic, childproof lid, UV-resistant, 105 cm high, max. diameter 86 cm, frost-proof down to -20°C, also filled, around 100 euros, often more expensive
  • Column wall tank or column tank – wall tank 350 or 550 l, column tank – 330, 500, 1,000 and 2,00 l, available in several colours, plastic, at 500 l – 193 cm high and diameter 73 cm, at 2,000 l – 223 cm high and 118 cm in diameter, 500 l – a good 200 euros, 2,000 l over 600 euros

Does a rainwater collector make sense?

A rainwater collector, also known as a rain thief, is recommended for some rain barrels or rain barrels. A simple rain collector is connected directly to the downpipe and directs the rainwater directly into the bin or barrel. A better-quality rain collector also filters the water coming from the roof so that impurities (leaves, moss and insects ) do not get into the collection container at all and can lead to constipation.

Of course, it is ideal if the rainwater tank can be set up right next to the downpipe, because the rainwater collector then automatically acts as an overflow stop. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. In this case it is important that a float valve acts as an overflow stop.

Most rain collectors are designed for roof sizes between 50 and 80 m². Of course there are also those for larger roofs.

The most important thing about the rainwater collector is the overflow stop, which prevents the bins from overflowing. In the past, this had to be done manually, but it is much easier to do it automatically.

Depending on the installation height of the rain collector in the downpipe, the maximum filling level of the water tank also varies. It’s better to mount the collector a little too high than too low, as it’s easier to jack up the water butt than bury it in the ground. Of course, it is best if you measure the height precisely so that the bin can stand safely and securely on the ground and the connection is at the exact height.

The connection to the downpipe

Tip: If you do not want to or are not allowed to remove part of the downpipe or dismantle it for installation, you should choose a rain collector that does not have to be. Such parts are assembled within 5 minutes and can usually still be used as a rain flap. Example – the Count Speedy rain thief

The easiest way to get rainwater is to tap the downspout that drains the water from the roof. Incidentally, the easiest way to do this is with a special attachment tube from the hardware store. This can be attached to a flap of the rain gutter. However, the water flows unfiltered into the collection tank. In addition, the water is not automatically diverted when the vessel is full. It’s overflowing. In the worst case, this can lead to water damage.
It is better to get a special rain collector attachment tube. For this, however, a piece of the appropriate size usually has to be cut out of the rainwater downpipe, and the connection piece is then placed in its place.

  • Use the marking template to determine the fill level and mark the downpipe section
  • Saw out the marked part with a fine-toothed saw
  • Insert the water collector into the resulting cut-out
  • Slide the top of the rain collector over the top section of the downspout
  • the lower part onto the lower part of the pipe
  • Merge both parts
  • Connect the water collector and water container with a suitable piece of garden hose

If you want to set up your rain barrel a little further away from the downpipe, you can do that too. A hose connector with a connection for garden hoses is used for this. It is mounted like the normal tube. However, a garden hose is used as a connection between the downpipe and the collection container. The outlet for the hose must be at least at the same height on the downpipe as the inlet to the rain barrel, otherwise the water will flow back from the barrel into the pipe.

protect rain gutters

When rain gutters clog, it can cause a lot of annoyance, not to mention that hardly any water reaches the rainwater collection tank. The masses of leaves in autumn in particular lead to blockages. The water then seeks new paths and this can end catastrophically. It is safer to integrate a leaf guard into the rain gutters. This consists of a perforated grid and is often already cut to fit different gutter widths. Alternatively, it is not difficult to cut them yourself. The grid is attached directly to the gutter with clamps.

Tip: Rain barrels should always be covered. On the one hand, this prevents algae and mosquitoes, on the other hand, animals that come to drink cannot fall into the water and drown in it because they can no longer get out on their own.

Save sewage fees by using rainwater?

Whether fees can be saved depends on where you live. In any case, it makes sense to ask about it. Often the precipitation fee can be saved. It is usually only really worthwhile when a large cistern has been installed in the ground, but it is also possible to save using rainwater evaporation via a green roof, allowing water to seep into the garden soil or collecting it for use in the garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a rain barrel pump make sense?
For all those who do not have a tap on the collection vessel through which the water can be let directly into the watering can and who have to take the water from above. A pump is a relief for removing water from such a vessel, but also for pumping it from one collection container to another. It is also possible to connect a garden hose, a hose sprayer or a lawn sprinkler. In extreme cases, such a pump can also pump out your own flooded basement, which of course nobody who buys such a pump hopes for.

Are frost-proof water butts better than regular ones?
Frost-proof water butts have the advantage of not having to be emptied before winter. However, the use of these special vessels depends on where you live, on the cold and how long it is to be expected. In really cold areas it is advisable to generally empty every bin.

In areas that are not so frosty, the use of containers that are considered frost-proof is beneficial. However, it is important that the bins or barrels are not filled to the brim with water. Ice expands when it freezes, so where does it go? It is better to leave only 75 or even better 50 percent full bins. Then there is enough space for the ice cream.
Most of the time, when buying, it is pointed out whether the bins have to be emptied or not. If you want to be on the safe side, empty your bin and, above all, disconnect it from the water supply.

The rustic rain barrels from Beckmann are really frost-proof (with a guarantee).

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