Some of the uses for a 55-gallon barrel include rainwater collection, grow beds, docks, wildlife feeders and lighting fixtures. Uses vary based on whether the barrel is made of metal, plastic or wood and by what had been contained in the barrels. Use 55-gallon barrels whole or tailored to other sizes and shapes.
Fifty-five-gallon barrels used to collect rainwater should be plastic, as metal can rust or corrode. In a basic rain barrel set-up, downspouts are rerouted from the gutters of homes into the tops of the barrels. Create more elaborate versions of rain barrels using multiple barrels with irrigation piping and valves.
Plastic 55-gallon barrels are also a widely-used method for floating docks. Full-size, sealed barrels are placed underneath the surface of the docks to keep them buoyant in an environmentally safe way. This method is also useful for homemade raft-making.
Construct grow beds using 55-gallon barrels made of wood or plastic. Cut the barrels in half lengthwise and slice it into rings for scattered or geometric planting. When using a plastic half-barrel, pierce drainage holes through the underside of the grow bed before adding soil and plants.
Wildlife feeders and lighting fixtures are two other ways to utilize half-barrels. Make wildlife feeders from barrels that previously held no chemicals or toxic substances. Mount, hang or keep them on the ground to suit various types of birds and animals. Create half-barrel lighting fixtures using only metal barrels. Paint the inside of the barrel white after installing the mounting and lighting kits.