How to make a rain barrel lid

Written by anise hunter
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How to make a rain barrel lid
Rain barrels are a good addition to the waterwise garden. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

If you are refurbishing an old rain barrel or if you need to make a top for an open barrel, you need a good rain barrel lid. Rain barrels are a good way to store water for the summer, but they can also breed mosquitoes if they are left open. In addition, they are a drowning hazard for animals and small children. For these safety reasons, a rain barrel should have a lid. A rain barrel lid can also be the place where water enters the barrel from a downspout diverter.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Circular metal frame slightly larger than the top of the rain barrel
  • Thin piece of plastic slightly larger than the top of the rain barrel
  • Utility knife
  • 1 foot x 1/2 foot fine mesh
  • Strong glue
  • Downspout diverter
  • Tape measure
  • Pen
  • Duct tape

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  1. 1

    Use the tape measure to measure the diameter of the top of the rain barrel. Add 1/2-inch. This will be the diameter of your metal frame and your plastic circle. Use the resources section below to calculate the perimeter of the circle from the diameter measurement. This is the length of metal frame that you need.

    How to make a rain barrel lid
    Measure the metal and get the perimeter of the circle (tape measure image by Alison Bowden from
  2. 2

    Bend the metal frame around in a circle that is 1/2-inch larger than the diameter of the rain barrel. Duct tape the ends together. Make sure that you position a "u" shape of metal underneath the frame, ready to slide on to the top of the barrel.

  3. 3

    Try sliding the frame over the sides of the barrel. If it fits snugly but not tightly, then you have the correct dimensions.

  4. 4

    Measure the thin plastic to the diameter of the frame and mark it with the pen. Score the plastic with the utility knife and gradually cut it more deeply until you have a plastic circle. Cut out a small circle that is the diameter of the tube that comes out of the downspout diverter to allow you to connect the downspout diverter directly to the top of the rain barrel.

    How to make a rain barrel lid
    Score the plastic with a utility knife (a sharp utility knife image by timur1970 from
  5. 5

    Cut out a hole just under a foot long and 1/4 foot wide near the back of the plastic lid. This will be a peep hole to determine how much water is in the barrel. Turn the lid over and use strong glue to attach the fine mesh across the hole to prevent mosquitoes from getting into or out of the rain barrel.

    How to make a rain barrel lid
    Use fine mesh to prevent mosquitoes from entering the rain barrel (black mesh image by Paul Mitchell from
  6. 6

    Insert the plastic lid into the metal frame. Glue it to the inside of the frame if it is a little too small. If it is too large, shave off the edges until it fits inside the frame.

  7. 7

    Place the lid on top of the rain barrel and attach it to the downspout diverter if you have one.

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