Try This: Rain Chain

Tame the rain with this inexpensive garden project.


The rain chain can be used to channel rain to a catchment system (an old wooden whiskey barrel is the classic). The rainwater can be used to water plants.

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In most parts of the country, spring rains are a gift. To take greatest advantage of that precipitation and to ensure the runoff isn’t wasted—or worse, left to erode siding or undermine foundations—we need to properly channel all this beneficence. Rain chains have been used in Asia for centuries to gracefully control the downward path of water. They use surface tension to efficiently steer water with a minimum of splash and splatter. Ours is pretty adorable, like jewelry for your house. It’s also inexpensive and a lot of fun to make.

1. We used 10 2-inch aluminum funnels spaced about every 8 to 10 inches on an 8-foot length of galvanized chain. Drill 2 holes in opposite sides of the funnel rim to take the cross-bar bolt. Center the holes so the funnel hangs straight. Trace your funnel and find the center points on paper, then use that to mark the proper places to drill on the funnel.

2. For this rain chain, we used 2 1/2-inch #6 bolts and nuts and chain small enough to fit through the funnel hole but big enough for the bolt to go through its links. One bolt and 3 nuts create the crossbar. Thread the bolt through the hole in the right edge of the funnel, then screw on a nut.

3. Thread the bolt through a link in the chain and add another nut.

4. Finally, thread the bolt through the left hole in the funnel rim and tighten a nut on the end. Use the 2 center bolts to hold the chain in the center of the crossbar.