The BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System™ is the result of many years of R&D. We tinkered until we got it just right, so there's no guesswork for our customers—just a system that works. Of course, as a customizable DIY kit, there is plenty of room for tailoring your BlueBarrel System to your space, and to your taste! We’ve shared plenty of creative customizations over the years. This article covers alternative rain barrel foundations for BlueBarrel Systems submitted by our clever DIY customers all over the USA.
The Standard Rain Barrel Foundation
Firstly, the standard BlueBarrel System foundation begins with a level gravel base. Each barrel is rests on 2 parallel cinderblocks; the under-plumbing sits in the gap between the two rows of cinderblock bases (see diagram below).
Creative Rain Barrel Foundations for BlueBarrel Systems
Over time, some of our customers have come up with their own foundation adaptations, most often to elevate the system. The main reason for elevating a rain barrel is to increase head pressure for a gravity-fed drip irrigation system, another one of our specialties! If you want the base of your system above 24” (the height of 3 cinderblocks), a custom platform is your best option.
Please note a 55-gallon rain barrel weighs nearly 500 lbs. when full. While BlueBarrel loves sharing inspiration from our DIY customers, the custom foundations featured here are not our design. If you attempt a custom platform solution, make sure you build it to local specifications and standards, or work with a professional suited to the task! You may also want to consider how to strap rain barrels for safety.
Wood platform 1:
Thomas built individual wood frames for his purple-painted 3-barrel system in Connecticut. He began with a level gravel base. Next, he placed concrete footings to secure the platforms and keep the heavy barrels from sinking the platform legs into the gravel and earth beneath it. On top, he used BlueBarrel's standard cinder-block layout that allows for under-plumbing the barrels. And, Thomas chose a lovely purple paint color—for the barrels and cinderblocks—to coordinate with the home’s exterior. Nicely done!
Wood platform 2:
Steve used a similar approach—including a classy custom paint job!—for his 4-barrel system in Washington. He left out the cinder blocks, and instead drilled through the wooden base for the underplumbing. In this setup, the barrels are placed directly on the platform. Additionally, Steve stained the wood platform to match the storage shed the system is connected to (yes, even a small storage shed roof can fill a system—find out how much you can collect from your rooftop with our nifty rainwater calculator!)
***please note: it is necessary to use pressure treated wood to help prevent rot and moisture damage over time.
Laura raised her 2-barrel system up significantly by placing crafty wood-clad barrels on a metal platform, artfully maximizing Colorado's 2-barrel-per-household limit. And, yes, this is a BlueBarrel System: the barrels are hidden beneath wood strips, the underplumbing is painted black to match the frame, and the addition of a brass spigot completes the look. Read more about Laura's system, and other strategies for masking your BlueBarrel System here.
Custom Block Wall
Erica built a decorative block wall foundation for the 9-barrel system in her Florida garden. Instead of the standard two rows of evenly spaced cinderblocks, Erica constructed 2 parallel walls (about 18” in height) with room for the under-plumbing in the gap. She placed the barrels in groups of three, leaving space between each grouping to access the plumbing when needed.
Distributing the Weight
Shane made a smart and simple modification to the foundation for his 4-Barrel System in sunny Arizona. He used an additional row of cinderblocks for extra height, plus a capstone on the top and bottom of each tower. Not only do the capstones add additional height for his gravity-fed irrigation system, they distribute the weight of full barrels over clay-heavy desert soils. This is a smart move to reduce settling over time. Another climate-inspired move is the lattice shade that Shane built. More on that here!