Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are an important addition for all developments, and a great step towards making your property more eco-friendly. Water collected in your rain barrel can be used on your home landscape instead of faucet water, which both conserves water and can help you save on your water bill. Likewise, rain barrels are an outstanding way to reduce the flow of stormwater runoff, helping mediate stream erosion and resulting pollution in our surrounding waterways.

Northern Virginia Rain Barrel Program

EcoAction Arlington is pleased to be a partner of the Northern Virginia Rain Barrel Program led by the Northern Virginia Soil & Water Conservation District working with Arlington County, the City of Falls Church, the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County, and Reston Association.

The Northern Virginia Rain Barrel Program typically has rain barrels available between April and September although this varies depending on availability of barrels and the schedules of the program partners.

To participate in a Northern Virginia Rain Barrel Program workshop or order a pre-made barrel, please visit the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District website.

Selecting the Right Rain Barrel

Finding a reliable rain barrel can sometimes be a challenge. While they are easily found at hardware stores and online, it is important that you choose a rain barrel that is durable and can stand up to the task.

Reliable rain barrels tend to be made of Polyethylene plastics, and come in a cylindrical shape. While costs vary, good barrels should range between $80-$120 without discounts.

Painting Your Own Barrel

Interested in personalizing your own Rain Barrel? Follow these simple steps to clean, prime, and design your barrel for fun backyard decoration!

  1. Scrub your empty barrel with an equal mixture of white distilled vinegar and warm water, being sure to get rid of dirt and debris. Rinse the barrel thoroughly, and allow to air dry. 
  2. Dull the outer surface of your barrel by sanding it down with fine grit sandpaper.
  3. Re-scrub your barrel with a brush and water to remove dust from sanding. Rinse with water and dry with a towel or air-dry. 
  4. Prepare your painting surface by applying a light coat of plastic paint primer, which can be found at most hardware stores. Aerosol plastic primers work as well. Let dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  5. Once your barrel has dried, you can start painting! Follow these tips as you go along:
    1. Be sure to outline your designs beforehand
    2. Seek out acrylic artists paints for designs. Using brushes and other painting tools will work well
    3. If you want to apply a solid background coat, plastic acrylic spray paints work well. Make sure your barrel has air-dried before moving onto foreground designs. 
    4. The more color, the better! 

Visit the Northern Virginia Rain Barrel Program’s website for artistic inspiration!