Rain barrels for the river

Two people put together a rain barrel

What's a rain barrel?

Rain barrels collect the rain that runs off your roof and down your gutters so you can use it later to water your garden or lawn. But rain barrels do more than conserve water. They also prevent runoff — and the pollution it carries — from entering already-taxed stormwater systems. As climate change intensifies rainfalls in Minnesota, it's even more important to capture that rain where it lands.

But even as annual precipitation levels climb, we'll have plenty of dry spells when rainwater harvest comes in handy. Outdoor irrigation makes up 35% of a single-family home's water use, so a rain barrel can also help you conserve water.

What you can do

FMR and other community workshops are a great way to not only get an affordable rain barrel but learn about their care and what else you can do to make your yard river-friendly.

There are several options to get a rain barrel: DIY (do-it-yourself), ready-made, or in-between — build your own rain barrel in a guided workshop.

DIY rain barrels

Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District provides a comprehensive booklet to educate yourself about the purpose and uses of rain barrels. The booklet is a how-to guide on choosing, building and installing your own rain barrel. Mississippi Watershed Management Organization describes how to use and install a rain barrel in this article and video.

For more information on how to install a rain barrel, check out Metro Blooms' instructional YouTube video.

Workshop-guided rain barrels

Workshops to teach you how to build and use your own rain barrel are often held through various community organizations. All materials are provided, and the best part is once you're done, you get to take your rain barrel home! These workshops usually cost around $40.

Check the FMR calendar for upcoming workshops or email volunteer@fmr.org to be notified when we add rain barrel workshops to the calendar. Please note, we usually offer several each year, but they fill fast.

Check your neighborhood organization or local community education offerings for workshops.

Ready-made rain barrels

You can purchase plastic and wooden rain barrels from several locations around the Twin Cities.

Recycling Association of Minnesota
Mills Fleet Farm
Home Depot

Setup and maintenance of rain barrels

Set up your rain barrel safely: Make sure you have a level, stable base that's accessible and elevated to give you water pressure. Never drink from a rain barrel — rain barrel rainwater is for plants, not people.

Protect your rain barrel from intense light and keep debris out of the barrel. Disconnect and empty your rain barrel over the winter.


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Upcoming Events

Saturday, April 20 - 9:30 AM to Noon
West River Parkway and 36th Street/44th Street, Minneapolis
Applications due Friday, May 3 by 5 p.m.
Virtual and in-person
Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Hampton Woods Wildlife Management Area