How Can I Use a Rain Barrel If I Do Not Have Gutters?

“I have been given a rain barrel, but don’t have gutters on my house. How can I gather rain in my rain barrel without gutters? Thank you.” Jenifer of Saint Petersburg, Florida

Answer: That is a tough one. Rain barrels are made to collect water from the large surface area of a roof. Gutter downspouts have always been the water delivery system for rain barrels. You may consider getting gutters on one side of your house if you have a pitched roof.

Otherwise, I recommend finding the spot below your roof from which water drains the most. If you have a barrel that opens from the top, you can take the top off and then strategically place it below the drainage area for water collection. Place a mesh cover over the top to keep mosquitoes from breeding and animals from falling in and drowning. Because this method will reduce water collection, you may consider placing the barrel on stones or cinder blocks to increase water pressure and flow from the valve. Otherwise, you might consider giving the barrel to a friend with gutters.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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