Catch your rainwater with a water butt

Install a water butt to save on your household bills

Mid-adult woman filling watering can from water butt

by Piper Huxley |

Water butts are something that every garden should have. A big, outside storage that catches rainwater from your roof, that has travelled down the guttering with little upkeep. Why do we love a water butt? They have many benefits. Not only is rainwater better for plants, but it’s an environmentally-friendly way to reduce your water usage. Most importantly, in a time when household bills are soaring and climate change is worrying us all, we need to be doing our bit.

England’s notoriety for bad weather is a plus.

How does a water butt work?

Rainwater collects on the roofs of our homes. Luckily, guttering helps the water flow down drainpipes and into a drain. However, if you invest in a water butt, the rainwater is diverted from the drainpipe to the water butt. This is thanks to a diverting tool. Don’t worry about your water butt overfilling because any excess water will head straight for the drainpipe.

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We’ve popped together some of our top picks. Maybe you’ll find the perfect fit for your garden.

Best water butts for your garden UK 2022

This Mini Water Butt Kit is a garden must-have. With a 100L capacity, this handy kit boasts all the things you need to connect to your drainage system. Plus, the water butt, lid and stand are all made from recycled plastic – which is great. Not only that, but the tap is compatible with all systems such as Hozelock and Gardena. Above all, this model is perfect for a smaller garden or a confined space.

Dimensions: L38 x W38 x H124 cm

Capacity: 100L

**Pros:** Fast flow hose-fit tap and diverter, no extra plastic packaging

Cons: Smaller model, can be fiddly to assemble

Recycled Material: Yes

Review: “I had no problems with the base - yes it's a bit fiddly but it helps if you assemble it where you are going to place the butt rather than making it and then carrying it around. I've had no leaks. All in all, I'm very pleased with the whole ensemble. The tap is smooth enough for my grandchildren to use and I'm doing my tiny bit to reduce water consumption in my household! And being a slimline 100l model it fits nicely and isn't obtrusive.”

If you’re looking for something a little larger on capacity, Wayfair has this 210L rain barrel. With great reviews, this butt is a stand-out. It comes with a spigot, a hose and a stand. Though it’s not been specified whether this item has been made from recycled plastic, it has a lockable lid for security, a tap and a downpipe filler kit. Perfect to tuck away in a corner and use for a larger garden.

Dimensions: L57 x W57 x H97 cm

Capacity: 210L

Pros: Easy to assemble, lockable lid, customers say it is "strong and study"

Cons: Bulky, low quality materials, not recycled plastic

Recycled Material: Polypropylene

Reviews: “Very quick delivery...easy to follow instructions...just need some rain now!”

Made from 100% recycled plastic, this slimline water butt is ideal for use in smaller gardens or decking areas where space may be limited. This is a great way to recycle rainwater while helping to reduce your water bills. However, you have to buy the stand and diverter as an add-on.

Dimensions: W35 x H97 cm

Capacity: 100ml

Pros: Recycled plastic, slimline

Cons: Stand and diverted not included, not suitable for cast iron downpipes

Recycled Material: Yes

Reviews: “Easy to order, good choice and arrived promptly - can't ask for more than that!”

This is another firm choice if you need an extremely large water butt Not only does it have solid reviews on Amazon, but it comes equipped with a stand and diverter. Even the lid is child safe. In short, we love that this product is compatible with all systems, reliable and made from recycled materials.

Dimensions: L68 x W68 x H123 cm

Capacity: 200ml

Pros: Sturdy when full, kit includes stand and diverter, child-safe lock

Cons: Customers have said it is extremely large and has some poor finishings

Recycled Material: Yes

Reviews: “This a great water butt. Everything you need is neatly enclosed inside for delivery. Plus, it was well packaged and delivered early! It’s sturdy because of the enclosed, one-piece stand. All the holes are pre-drilled with two options for the downpipe connection. If you need a good-looking 200L water butt, don’t hesitate, buy this one!”

Double your water storage capacity by connecting these two 200L water butts together. Made from recycled plastic – decked out with a woodgrain effect, this water butt kit contains everything you need to connect one water butt to a downpipe. All the while, you can link two butts together to fill from the same source. Plus, it comes with a five-year guarantee and easy-to-follow instructions.

Dimensions: H121.6 x D68 cm

Capacity: 200ml x 2

Pros: Kit includes stands and diverters, child-safe lids, wood-grain effect

Cons: Only one connection kit so butts have to be close together

Recycled Material: Yes

Reviews: “These water butts are excellent. They’re easy to connect and hold a lot of water. I’m going to order more. The delivery and service were very good, too. I would definitely recommend it.”

With a larger capacity, you can collect even more rainwater for your garden. Perfectly designed for a smaller garden, the square shape adds convenience when you need to find a place for it. Plus, this water butt – made from recycled plastic – comes complete with a tap, lid, stand and diverter. To sum up, it has everything you need to begin reducing your water bills.

Dimensions: H151 x L54 x W54 cm (with stand)

Capacity: 250L

Pros: Space-saving design with large capacity, comes with stand and diverter

Cons: Needs additional Microbial Discs or Treatment Bottle to maintain

Recycled Material: Yes

Reviews: “The whole process was very easy. The items were easy to find on the website, ordering them was straightforward and they were delivered very quickly.  They're easy to install and are now in use. Very good all-round.”

This wall-mounted water butt is designed for a smaller space. With a decent capacity, you can a good amount of rainwater for your garden. Not only that, but this product has a stylish look – so, it will look great in any garden. Made from durable plastic, it even comes with a tap. However, you have to buy a diverter as an “add-on”. We love this product, though.

Dimensions: H151 x L54 x W54 cm (with stand)

Capacity: 250l

Pros: Space-saving for smaller gardens

Cons: Need wall space, diverter not Included

Recycled Material: Yes

Manufactured from waste plastic in Elho’s entirely wind-powered factory, this sturdy black water butt makes a fitting choice for green gardeners. The tank holds up to 200L and can be fitted to any drain pipe. You will need to purchase a divider, though. On top, there is an integrated planter. Why not add some extra growing space for flowers and plants? Turn a practical feature into something beautiful.

Dimensions: W59 x H106 cm

Capacity: 200l

Pros: Flower feature

Cons: Diverter not included

Recycled Material: Yes

FAQs

Are there any pumps for the water I've collected?

Once you’ve purchased your water butt you will need a few other accessories, like a water butt pump.

This is so you can transport your rainwater easily around your garden.

How do I install a water butt?

If you buy a water butt from somewhere reputable, it should come with instructions. However, if that's not the case, we've got a great outline of what to do from Save Money, Cut Carbon.

1. Place the water butt beside your chosen downpipe (the ones connected to your guttering). If you have more than one downpipe, choose the one that gets the most amount of rain.

2. Then, ensure the butt is on a flat stand and high enough that you can fit your watering can underneath and strong enough to hold the water.

3. Using a spirit level, you should mark the water butt height on the pipe with a marker.

4. Measure 3cm below the mark and cut through the downpipe with a hacksaw.

5. Attach the rainwater diverter to the pipe; the cut-off section of the downpipe fits onto the bottom of the diverter.

6. Then, measure eight 8cm down from the top of the water butt before drilling a hole.

7. Install the connector by fitting it in the hole and screwing it in place.

8. Then, attach the connector to the diverter before closing the lid. Make sure to test the tap.

How do I care for and clean a water butt?

As great and useful as water butts can be, there are some problems that can arise from using them. There are even some dangers that all water butt owners must be aware of.

Firstly, as they can become green with algae, it is recommended that you clean your water butt annually.

If you want to prevent anything from falling into the butt - like leaves or debris, you could purchase a gutter filter. Keep the lid closed to avoid algae as this gradually forms when water is exposed to sunlight.

Unfortunately, a water butt may attract some unwanted insects. Keeping the lid on will keep them out.

However, if you've got a swarm of mosquitoes living in your water butt, simply spray a mixture of water and olive oil onto the top of the water. As a result, a thin layer of film will form on the surface - which will kill any larvae.

On the other hand, legionella is a more serious issue. Legionella is a potentially deadly bacteria that thrives in warm, still water above 20 degrees and is the bug responsible for Legionnaires’ disease. As a precaution, keep your water in the shade - if possible. The best method in keeping legionella away is to make sure the water is below 20 degrees. If you're worried about your own health, we advise avoiding using a sprinkler or hose. To sum up, invest in a watering can.

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