A red rain barrel on a patio with plants and watering can

Using a Rain Barrel

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Benefits What to Look for Install Maintenance Resources

Rain barrels are a simple way to capture, store, and use rainwater as it flows from gutters and downspouts onto a property. This helps recycle rainwater and reduce stormwater pollution to local streams, lakes, and rivers.

By using a rain barrel, you can help protect the 640 miles of streams in our area. And, the rainwater can be used for gardening and even to wash your car or walkway/driveway.

This water should not be used for drinking. 


  1. Rainwater is good for plants and soils;
  2. Recycling rainwater for outdoor household needs conserves drinking water;
  3. Using rainwater instead of treated water can save money and energy; and,
  4. Reducing stormwater runoff by capturing rainwater is good for the environment because less pollution reaches streams and lakes.

What to Look for

Keep this in mind when choosing a rain barrel:

  • Dark-colored rain barrels prevent algae growth;
  • Screens protect against mosquitos breeding in the water;
  • Large overflow hoses help remove excess water;
  • A removable lid is good for maintenance and safety; and,
  • Make sure the rain barrel drains. This will prevent stagnant water.


Rain barrels should be near a downspout on a level and raised surface. The barrel should also be placed a few feet off the ground for easy access to rainwater and to allow the water to drain properly. Rain barrels should not be connected to plumbing for drinking water.


  • Check your gutters and downspouts to make sure they aren’t clogged or leaking
  • Remove debris from the rain barrel screen and repair it when needed
  • Make sure the downspout is secure


Check out these local vendors for more information about purchasing rain barrels at a discounted rate:

EPOCH Rain Barrels
Rain Water Solutions 

The City of Raleigh does not handle rain barrel sales. Please work directly with the vendor for all sales, distribution, and product support.



Joyce Gaffney
Environmental & Sustainability Specialist 

Lead Department:
Engineering Services
Service Categories:

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