Answer: You can use nearly any container as a rain barrel, from a 55-gallon drum to plastic trash cans to half whiskey barrels. The container itself isn't as important as how you are going to distribute the water.
The distance your barrel is from the garden isn't as important as the drop in elevation, so if you install a rain barrel, set it up so it is several feet above ground level and gravity will effectively move the water through a hose you attach to a spigot that you've put on the bottom or near bottom of the rain barrel. I don't think it will come out of the end of the hose in a mad rush, but it should flow freely enough to make watering quick and efficient. If, after setting and experimenting with your new rain barrel, you want to increase the water pressure, you can either elevate the barrel more or set an immersible pond pump into the barrel. Some are solar powered, but they aren't cheap so I'd vote for elevating the barrel
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