How to Get a Rebate on Rain Barrels or Compost Bins in Chicago

Want to make your home or garden more sustainable? Installing a rain barrel is a great way of conserving water in your garden Similarly, composting allows you to create a great soil amendment out some things you’d normally would throw away. Perhaps you haven’t installed either because of the price. Or maybe the DIY gardener approach to rain barrels and compost bins don’t appeal to you. What if you could get a rebate on your purchase of either a rain barrel or a compost bin? The City of Chicago is moving away from hosting rain barrel and compost bin sales this year. What the City is doing instead is offering $30 rebates on rain barrels and compost bin purchases at any Chicago garden center this year. 

To be eligible for the rebates ($60 maximum rebate) Chicagoans must attend one of the City’s Sustainable Backyard Workshops. There are four workshops left this season. Rebates are limited to 500 of each in 2010. To get your discount RSVP to one of the workshops by visiting here or calling 312.743.9283. The remainder of the 2010 Sustainable Backyard workshops schedule is:
Rogers Park Library
6907 N. Clark St.
Saturday, July 17
West Pullman Library
830 W. 119th St.
Wednesday, July 21
Douglass Library
3353 W. 13th St.
Saturday, July 24
Hegewisch Library
3048 E. 130th St.
Saturday, August 14


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  • A $60 rebate really makes a dent in the cost of a rain barrel! My friend Nita helped me make my two rain barrels (I needed a third arm) from 55-gallon barrels I got free from the water processing plant. (If anyone is interested, I used these plans from Garden Gate magazine.) The city of Ann Arbor gives a tiny discount on your water bill for having them--it's like $2.50 a quarter or something laughable, but, well, at least my rain barrels are Officially on Record.

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    The plans are cool for a DIYer but all those tools just make me think I've end up cutting a finger off. I'll take a prefabbed version any day. Ha.

  • In reply to MrBrownThumb:

    I wouldn't call myself a DIYer--I just like using power tools. :)

  • In reply to MrBrownThumb:

    Thank you, Mr. Brown Thumb, for spreading the word about this program! To find out more about the City's Rain Barrel and Compost Bin Rebate Program visit: There you will also find a full list of garden centers that stock rain barrels and compost bins and directions to build your own rain barrel.

    The Chicago Department of Water Management is giving residents who volunteer to have a water meter installed a free rain barrel, check out the MeterSave Program:

    And for more general news on rain harvesting, visit:

  • Unfortunately, if you get your rain barrels through Cook County, you can't get the city rebate. They seem to think it's double-dipping, since the County barrels are already subsidized. (However, they're a good price, and a decent product, plus super easy to get/install) MBT, I do recall reading somewhere that if you can verify that you've got and installed a RB, they'll lock in your water rates for 5 years when they start metering. Do you know anything about this?

  • In reply to naxn:

    I hadn't heard that you get locked in rates for installing it. I'll have to Google around some. Yeah, I figured their emphasis on buying one at local garden center probably wasn't meant the ones available for Cook County weren't going to be up for rebates. I'll post if I hear anything about the water rates.

  • Very cool that Chicago is supporting rain barrels and composting by offering rebates. Thank you for helping to raise awareness about this!

  • In reply to YourGardenShow:

    Thanks for commenting.

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