We started with a 32 gallon trash can, with lid, that we had in our shed that wasn't being used. Our city went to garbage and recycling carts for automated pick-up several years ago which left us with a trash can we had no obvious use for, and didn't want to throw away (because how weird would that be?).
Our climate in Southern Wisconsin has always been one of extremes: below zero temps in the winter and hot, muggy temps in the mid-upper 80s, with a few 90s, every summer. July seems to be getting drier and drier each year which meant my water bill was getting higher and higher. A rain barrel seemed like a small way to catch some rain and put it where I needed it for my vegetable gardens. Plus, I wouldn't be using potable (drinkable) water on my plants. Now if I could figure out how to legally do the same for my toilets...why do I need potable water to flush our family's waste down the toilet? Ridiculous.
|Scrap wood base, yup it'll work|
Anyway, we cut a hole in the lid for the downspout bendy thinger (highly technical term), cut a hole and shoved in a cut up garden hose (which after the first rain, we realized was NOT big enough and we modified it to a bigger diameter hose), I put in a spigot at the bottom and my hubby built a 7" wooden base.
|Before the overflow modification. The ugly concrete with metal tubes is all that remains of the original clotheslines. They're for stability.|
You don't have to have a spigot, or even a lid. The mosquitoes are terrible in my area. TERRIBLE. So a lid is absolutely necessary for us. Home improvement stores sell connector kits to connect multiple barrels (which I may want to do soon as my barrel is full after a few minutes of moderate rainfall.).
The first few years of using a rain barrel were done very simply. I had no base, no spigot, no overflow. I had the lid and the bendy thinger. All watering was done by removing the lid and dipping my watering can (and arm) into the rather disgusting water full of bits of roof and God knows what else. I'm just happy I can finally hook a hose us to this!