How to Make a Simple Rain Chain

Rain chains are a wonderful way to manage water run-off from the home. They are easy to make and beautiful addition to any garden. For a more pleasing alternative to the traditional unsightly drain spouts, try a rain chain.

Rain chains, called kusari-doi in Japanese, are decorative garden accessories designed to divert water run-off from any structure to a rain garden or barrel for collection.

By breaking the normal flow of rainwater, these ornamental chains direct water gracefully down a chain to the desired location reducing the likelihood of foundation and environment damage.

Rain chains are inexpensive and easy to make. They can be as simple as a standard store-bought chain or as elaborate as links with decorative garden treatments. They add an aesthetic element to any home.

Materials Needed

Image by Markus Spiske
  • Garden Stake
  • Gutter Strap
  • Binder Clips, Shower Clips or Store Bought Chain
  • Decorative Copper Accessories such as Fish, Flowers or Bells
  • Decorative Rocks
  • Water Barrel (Optional)

Location

Before assembling the rain chain, select a location. Most chains are installed in pre-existing rain gutters at a corner of the house. Highly visible corner gardens are best.

Remove the old gutter downspout and use a garden hose to clean the gutter to make sure it is free of any obstacles preventing water flow. To determine the length of the chain, measure the distance from the roof to the ground or the top of the barrel.

rain chain
Image by TracyGem

Assembly

To create an easy rain chain, simply link shower rings or binder clips together until the desired length is reached.

For a more decorative appearance, attach copper fish, cups, bells, flowers, or birds between rings. A super-easy rain chain can be created using a store-bought chain cut to the desired length.

To hang the chain, loop a single ring around the gutter strap. Insert the gutter strap into the gutter opening allowing the ring to drop through the hole. Attach the chain to the single ring. Attach the stake to the bottom of the chain and hammer the stake into the ground. If directing water to a water barrel, fasten the stake to the bottom center of the barrel.

Image by Joshua Hoehne

It is important to ensure the gutters are securely fastened to the roof. Heavy chains may require additional support. Arrange rocks around the stake to prevent soil erosion.

Recycled Materials

Interesting rain chains can be made from recycled materials such as plastic yogurt containers, soda cans, metal coffee cans, or plastic 2-liter bottles.

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