Catch the Rain

Water your garden—for free.  Set up a few barrels and catch the rain.  Rain barrels can provide hundreds of gallons of fresh, clean water for your garden.

Households: 2 completed, 4 committed
Points ?
Annual Savings
$100 - $200
Upfront Cost
These are estimates

Energy and water savings

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kWh Electricity
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Therms Natural Gas
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Gallons Gas
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Gallons Water
  • Save precious water resources
  • Clean, free extra water for areas with drought
  • Save money

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The Action
We will install rain barrels and use the water to replace some current outdoor water use.
Is this action for me?
If you do outdoor watering, this action is for you. If you rent, check with your landlord before installing rain barrels.
When and Who?
This action can be done anytime. DIY? This is an easy action that most people can do themselves. The other option would be help from a professional landscaping company.
How long will it take?
Medium - time to find the right rain barrel and install it.
What is the cost?
Around $100 - $200 or more per rain barrel. Costs for installation, if needed, would be extra.


  • Save precious water resources

  • Clean, free extra water for areas with drought

  • Save money



Receive a $50 rebate for the purchase and installation of a qualifying rain barrel.


Learn more about Rainwater Harvesting from Oakland-based nonprofit Greywater Action.


Learn how you can convert your existing garden into a water-efficient landscape. 

The Basics

Did you know you can collect up to 300 gallons of water from the roof of a 1,000 square foot house with just ½ an inch of rain? The average American home uses around 50 gallons of water per day for watering lawns and gardens. Combined with water wise garden planning, rain barrels can go a long way to helping with outdoor watering needs. And it’s really easy to do!


Learn about rain barrels
Make a plan for your rain barrels
Decide DIY or professional install
Purchase and install

How it works

Rain barrels are simple - it is a barrel that catches the rain water runoff from your roof.  The barrel connects to your rain gutter downspout.  It includes a filter or debris screen to keep the water clean and a hose connection or spout for easy use of the water you collect.  It could not get simpler than this.  If you want to collect a larger amount of water, you can connect a few rain barrels together or install a larger capacity water cistern.

Important - rainwater is not safe for human (or pet) consumption!  It is only suitable for outdoor uses like watering your garden and washing cars or pets or for indoor use like flushing toilets.  Rain barrels are generally used for hand watering; however rain barrels can support irrigation systems with a bit more extensive setup.

Make a plan

Before you are ready for install, make a plan for your rain barrels.  First, decide how much water you want to collect.  To estimate, with 1 inch of rain you can collect about ½ a gallon for each square foot of roof surface.  Each downspout only provides water for a portion of your roof, so consider this in your estimation.  Most rain barrels are 40-90 gallons.

Next, decide where you will place the rain barrel.  The best plan is to choose the gutter closest to the area where you want to use the water.  Finally, purchase your rain barrels.  Most rain barrels run from about $100-$200 per barrel.  If you want to collect more water than a standard rain barrel, some models allow you to connect a few rain barrels together or you can consider installing a larger water cistern.  For a basic rain barrel installation, check out this DIY guide.

DIY or professional?

Depending on the setup you choose, installing a rain barrel can be a simple, easy DIY project.  If you are comfortable using tools to cut your gutter and following the instructions to make sure your rain barrel is secure and working properly, then a basic rain barrel install is for you.  The DIY guide link above includes more information that can help you decide.  However, if you are not ready to take this on or are considering a larger cistern or advanced rainwater catchment system, you might want to consult a professional.

Plant wisely

Now that you have your rain barrels, consider choosing plants that conserve water and match your local climate.  This will help your rainwater stretch even further!