Our little garden gets the opportunity to conserve as much as 50-gallons of extra rainwater each time we have a downpour, thanks to my husband's thrifty rainbarrel project. He used a clean, plastic barrel leftover from our house construction and spent approximately $25 on extra parts to make it work.
In addition to the barrel he used these parts: a piece of flexible drainage pipe to extend from the house gutter to the top of the barrel, fittings to connect the drain pipe, a plastic water garden basket to use for filter, a water heater drain pan for a lid, 2 screws to secure the lid, a connection piece that came with the water heater drain that he used for a tap, a ball valve for a spicket, 3/4" pipe fittings for the ball valve, 4 cement blocks to set the barrel high enough to fill a 5-gallon bucket, PVC cleaner and glue.
The hardest part was finding the fitting to tap the barrel, which he only found in a kit along with the water heater pan. We are using the barrel in a vertical/upright position.
1) First he drilled a one-inch hole in the bottom of the barrel and attached the fittings, then added the ball valve spicket.
2) Secondly he set the blocks on the ground with holes up, and set the barrel atop the blocks.
3) Next he cut a hole in the drain pan to fit the basket.
4) He put the pan atop the barrel and added screws to secure it.
5) He ran the downspout from the gutter into the basket.
My husband is still tweaking the overflow system. He's learning more about managing the rainwater without causing any erosion problems or robbing water from nearby patches of ground. We are not experts on this, but we're excited about conserving at least a little extra rainwater to use on the garden this year.