Rain chain ideas

Updated February 21, 2017

The soothing sound of water trickling along a rain chain creates an air of serenity in a garden or sitting area. A rain chain is a series of loops or funnels joined together that is attached to the end of a gutter, in place of a downspout. As rain cascades down the rain chain into a catch basin or planting area, it makes a relaxing sound. Rain chains can also be attached to the eaves of a building with no gutter, wherever the water runs off the roof.

Rain Chain Materials

Rain chains are available in a variety of materials to complement any architectural style or garden setting. Copper is the most popular material for rain chains because it weathers to a greenish-grey colour. Brass rain chains darken with age, while aluminium or stainless steel rain chains usually retain their original colour. Copper and brass rain chains go with many architectural designs, including traditional, cottage, country, rustic, southwestern and oriental. Stainless steel and aluminium rain chains are good choices for modern, contemporary, traditional or Oriental styles.

Rain Chain Styles

Styles of rain chains are even more varied than materials. Round, oval or square links of chain are joined in a single or double chain for a basic rain chain that accents modern and contemporary styles, as well as rustic, country and oriental styles. Rain chains of flared cups, fluted shaped funnels or simple flower designs complement traditional, classical, oriental and cottage styles. Embossed cups with designs of flowers, butterflies, leaves and flowers are good choices for cottage and Victorian styles. Cups with a basketweave design match country and rustic styles, while bamboo-shaped cups go well in an Asian-style garden.

Catch Basins

People in Japan designed rain chains to direct rain water from roofs into containers for later use. They used large ceramic or stoneware bowls, pots or jugs. Stone basins and metal bowls are used as catch basins. Buckets or barrels hold large amounts of rainwater, which can be used to water potted plants and nearby garden areas. An area of decorative stones or pavers directs water away from structures and walkways. A rain garden located under or near a rain chain benefits from the additional water.


Hang rain chains from tree limbs or hooks throughout the garden to provide relaxing background noise near patios or other outdoor seating areas. Rain chains placed over or near fountains and ponds are visually striking, as well as functional. Rain chains made of links tend to splash more than those made of funnels. Place rain chains so that paths and walls will not be splashed.

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About the Author

Melody Lee holds a degree in landscape design, is a Florida Master Gardener, and has more than 30 years of gardening experience. She currently works as a writer and copy editor. Her previous jobs include reporter, photographer and editor for a weekly newspaper.