The TJ garden was lucky to be the recipient of several donated rain barrels in 2018. We used these plain black rain barrels as a student IB community service project, a Ramadan fasting-friendly project, and an end of year garden party project.
Here’s a write-up of how we painted our last rain barrel, in case any other schools are interested in trying it themselves.
Prepping the Rain Barrel
We followed these instructions from the Norther Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District. (One thing we would have done differently if we’d gotten the advice in time: don’t just clean the rain barrel before priming, sand it lightly to help the primer stick.) The fun part? Priming the barrel with sky blue primer, and then painting white “clouds” on top. (Another thing we’d have done differently this next time: that green paint was supposed to make it easier to paint the grass background, but it made it harder. Next time? Skip it.)
All this work was done the week before the party, so we’d be ready to jump in and paint the fun part with students.
Painting the Rain Barrel at our Garden Party
The week before the party, we painted the grass background, so we could let it dry. Then we used colored chalk to sketch in the different native flowers we had in our garden. We took small sturdy paper plates and put 3-5 different acrylic paints that matched a particular kind of flower– such as lavender, pink, and purple for anise hyssop, or yellow, orange, and black for Black Eyed Susans. We gave each student a photograph of the flower, a paper plate palette and a brush, and let them loose on the barrel to paint. After the flowers dried, we went back and added the foliage to match each plant. Having well organized palettes and doing all the “green” parts (leaves and grass) on a different day made this a very easy project.
Mounting the Rain Barrel
It’s important to have a very sturdy mounting location for heavy rain barrels. We’d been told that we could stack cement blocks to act as a mount, but we really wanted sturdy wooden mounts to match our first rain barrel mount. Farmer John to the rescue! He made us new mounts, and we were ready to go.