Friday, May 1, 2015

Best Dressed Rain Barrel on the Block!

I recently participated in a rain barrel program hosted by The Galveston Bay Foundation. The goal is to reduce runoff into storm drains and collect water for use in personal gardens. I purchased two barrels for our garden and my darling hubby installed them with the included downspout diverter and barrel spout. 

My naked barrel.
These plain barrels were once used to hold syrup for the Coca Cola Company. They are a semi-transparent polypropylene plastic that if left uncovered/unpainted will allow organisms to grow in the water. In the workshop, we were advised to paint the barrels to reduce the sunlight on the water and prevent said growth. The paint process includes, cleaning, sanding, priming, painting and sealing the painted barrel. The foundation even hosts contest each year for the best barrel. 

I was initially excited about painting the barrels with the kids. I had visions of hand-print flowers and butterflies to bring whimsy to our garden. After considering the cost of supplies for two barrels, time commitment, and multiple steps, I changed my plan.  I opted instead to cover my barrels with outdoor fabric.
                                    Outdoor Fabric- Solarium Wilder Cabana, , hi-res

This fabric is Solarium brand Wilder Cabana it resists sunlight, heat, mildew, moisture and rated to withstand 500 hours direct sunlight. I drafted a simple plan and  came up with this cover.

I used spray paint for plastic to coat the barrel of the lid. I will likely cover it with plants or a fairy garden of something. The recessed areas will become a breeding ground for mosquitoes if standing water is allowed to collect there. 

For the cover, I  used 2, 1-yard cuts of fabric stitched side-by-side at one selvedge. I then made a 1.5 in a casing along the top of my fabric and inserted elastic through it to gather the cover. I adjusted the casing to fit the circumference of the barrel. I secured the ends of the elastic in place and added a button and loop of elastic to close it over the hose.  

For the non stitched selvedge side panel with the downspout, I secured it with snap tape for easy removal.

Does this make sense? One side is stitched closed and the other is closed with snap tape. I wanted the option to remove it easily to wash it and it contained 50 gallons of water.

To allow easy access to the faucet, I made a  slit in the fabric above the spout and hemmed it around the cut edge. 

This front slit will allow access to the spout while keeping the cover free when filling my watering can. 

I have no information on the success of covering a barrel instead of painting it. I hope this cover keeps organisms out and discourages algae growth. I love the burst of color it adds to our backyard. I have another barrel that I plan to cover as well. That barrel will not be attached to the house, but will have a rain saucer. When it is ready to be put out I will share what I have done. 

If you are local the Galveston Bay area,  be sure check out the foundation for future workshops. If you want to learn to sew your own barrel covers, I can teach you. Email me to be added to the waitlist for my next round of sewing lessons. 

Happy Sewing,


  1. So clever! I think that will work, I take care of some feral cats, and used to have trouble with algae growing in their water bowls. Once I figured out a permanently shaded spot for the water, algae was not a problem any more. So I think it's being out of sunlight that matters, not exactly how you manage that

    1. The rain barrel cover has been working great so far! There are tiny holes drilled in the top rim of the barrel, so I have had no issues with water settling. The barrel is in the sun, so am standing water quickly evaporates!

  2. Good for you! Participating in that program will really be beneficial to the environment. It's good that you're now aware of an alternative way to collect water to use for your personal garden. Anyway, I love the way you covered your rain barrel up. It looks great, Bianca. Thanks for sharing that! Kudos and all the best to you! :)

    Sharon Strock @ StormChamber

    1. Thanks Sharon! It has been such an asset to our garden and solved a flooding issue near where we placed the barrel. I plan to get a couple more for other downspouts.

  3. The Galveston Bay Foundation is really onto something, providing you with water tanks like that. The dual function is worth noting in and of itself, getting you water that you need while mitigating a storm's effects at the same time. Kudos for being a participant; you are certainly helping promote a good practice here. Everyone should get rainwater tanks, if they are to withstand the pressures of weather and climate today.

    Bert Aguilar @ Rainfill Tanks