One of the advantages of summer showers (and there’s not many) is collecting the water that your
garden needs to flourish in the sunny weather. Creating a water-butt is a perfect and easy way to
harvest water whilst keeping the cost on your meter down and it’s better than tap water for your
plants. Here are a few pointers and tips to help you utilise the free assets of nature!
Types of water-butts:
Depending on what type of water-butt you want to use, you can either buy one from a garden
centre or online and attach it to a drainpipe, or you can create your own stand-alone water-butt in
the garden out of surplus material.
What material can I use to make a water-butt?
The best material to use to construct a water-butt of your own is plastic. You can recycle items such
as old storage bins, tubs, food containers, or old storage drums (although these can be quite hard to
get a hold of, eBay has an abundance) and things like milk bottles (you can cut them in half and
collect water in the base).
Make sure that you clean any container you decide to use. Steam cleaning is a good method to do
this as any bleach or cleaning product you use will contaminate the water you’re collecting.
Even though some of these options aren’t aesthetically pleasing, you can always add some plants or
conceal them behind a hedge, or other garden features.
Where can I fit a water-butt?
For water-butts which require a pipe, any downpipe will do! The rain falls on the roof and this flows
down the drainpipe and if it doesn’t settle in the ground it is usually piped away as waste.
Recognising a downpipe is easy. All you need to do is establish which pipes are connected to your
guttering. Make sure you don’t get these mixed up with your soil pipe or waste pipe which are a
little fatter and reach above the gutter.
You can also attach a water butt to sheds, greenhouses, and garages (so long as they have
guttering). There are plenty of guides online which tell you the steps you need to take when
installing your own water-butt (such as this helpful guide by Richard
how-to-build-one-at-home-1-5299945) if the instructions that come with the water-butt do not
As for stand-alone water-butts, these can go anywhere. If you have a garden fence, a good idea
would be to tie the bottom of a milk carton around the pole with some string or if you have space in
your garden for a larger collector, you could make a decorative feature out of it.
Method of creating your own water-butt:
Choose a suitable place to put the water-butt adhering to the guidelines above. Make sure you raise
the water-butt off the ground and place it onto a stand.
If you’re using a large container, installing a tap would be a good idea. Although this takes a little
more time and effort but would make it easier to retrieve water from the bottom of the barrel once
the water levels are low. There are plenty of garden centres from which you can purchase a tap kit
and a variety of options online. When sealing the taps, ensure that the sealant doesn’t have doesn’t
contain any fungicides because these will contaminate the water.
Now all that’s left to do is to sit back, and, for once, be glad when it rains!
Written by Leah Bennett