In hot and dry weather, water used outdoors can amount to 50% of total usage.
Gardeners, being in touch with nature, are more inclined to be concerned about ecological matters, and so there has been a huge demand for water butts of late. Not only does collecting rainwater for watering plants mean that you are not using expensively treated tap water, but plants prefer it because rainwater doesn’t contain the chemicals involved in that treatment.
Gardeners are now looking to have more than one water butt – finding ingenious places to position them wherever there is a good run-off of rainwater. Manufacturers have risen to the challenge and there are now water butts to suit all situations – from large capacity butts to hold the water from your main roof to slim-line ones that fit in a tight corner or take little space up against your shed, collecting the rain from the shed, greenhouse or garage roofs.
Standard water butts still come in black or green polypropylene or polyethylene, often made from recycled plastic and/or UV protected. They are tapered, round, barrel-shaped or rectangular (ideal to fit close against a wall), and are either enclosed at the top or have a lid that can make a perfect stand for flowerpots – try trailing plants that can disguise a plain plastic water butt.
However, now that the water butt is becoming a more visible garden feature, as likely as not sharing the patio with you or at least within view of it, there are more stylish designs available. For a traditional cottage look try a classic wine-vat version in a wood-grain with barrel banding effect. If that’s too rustic, how about a dark-oak wood-grained effect that could double for a piece of antique furniture? It comes with a matching stand. Or a classical Roman column in green or marble cream? And for the cosmopolitan urban gardener there are Moroccan themed, beehive shaped butts in moss green and terracotta. Slim-line butts look like high-tech equipment, very smart, and several can be linked together. Being mounted above ground allows easy access to the tap or for hose connection.
Starting at a small (but useful in a small garden), 100 litres, average water butts come in various capacities up to around 250 litres. The classical Roman column is available in 333 or 555 litre sizes, whereas a set of 3 workmanlike, wall-mounted butts will collect a huge 800 litres – that’s more than 80 average sized watering cans worth of rainwater! Finally, at a massive 1500 litre capacity and with a surprisingly small footprint is the utility rain water tank.
Connecting your water butt
There are two ways of collecting rainwater from the downpipe from your gutters; either the downpipe goes straight into the water butt at the top, and once the butt is full, the excess water carries on to the drain through an overflow pipe from the side, or you fit a rain diverter to the downpipe, which directs water into the butt until it is full.
To fit a diverter or an overflow pipe, your butt will need a hole in the side, and to fit it directly to a downpipe it will need a hole in the lid. Butts either come with these holes provided or have a guide as to where to cut them, and some water butt kits come with everything you need. However, we stock a complete range of accessories, including downpipes, diverters, stands that allow you to get a watering can underneath and are strong enough to carry the weight when filled with water, gutter filters to keep out debris.
Butts with removable lids can be cleaned-out every so often. Modern water butt lids are totally child-safe and pet proof, or ‘child-resistant’. Some butts also have child-proof taps. Most come with a 3 or 5 year guarantee.