How to install a water butt and other ways to recycle water for your garden

Make the most of summer showers and keep your plants looking lush by installing a water butt in your garden. Here's what you need to know before you buy...

As summer rolls in and the mercury rises, gardeners everywhere battle to keep their borders watered and their grass lawns green.

In fact, following the recent heat wave, green-fingered Brits are preparing for a dry summer - and potential drought – with clever water saving devices that collect rainwater and reuse water from the home.

According to data from, there’s been a 193% year-on-year increase in sales of irrigation systems and sales of water butts have shot up by 105%.

Almost 100,000 litres of rainwater falls on our roofs each year, with modern guttering and drainwater funnelling that fresh water straight down to the sewer system. It's a phenomenal waste, and one that can be easily remedied.

A recent statement from found that if every home installed a rainwater barrel the UK would save about 30,000 million litres of each summer, enough to fill 120 Olympic swimming pools. It also means that even if there's a hosepipe ban you'll have a stash of clean water to keep your garden in tip top shape.

Choosing a water butt

Your local DIY store or garden centre will stock a range of butts in various sizes. Depending on your space and needs, prices start from around £20.

For small gardens and roof terraces choose a slim square edged design that can sit flush against a wall or in a corner.

garden area with water butt and flower plants

(Image credit: TBC)

Buy Now: 220l Water Butt and Stand, £80, B&Q

  •  For larger outdoor spaces, the bigger the butt the better - you can always link them together with an overflow pipe to save as much water as possible.
  • Install the water butt on a firm, flat surface that is strong enough to carry the weight when filled with water - 1l of water weighs 1kg.
  • Consider buying a stand for your water butt. This way you can easily get a watering can underneath, making filling easier.
  • If you think the water might freeze in the winter, empty your water butt to prevent the plastic cracking.
  • Always use a lid – not only will it keep dirt and insects away, but it’ll stop kids from falling in.

How to fit a water butt

Fit your butt in one of two ways:

  • Place it against the wall under a downpipe. Measure the height of the butt plus a few inches and them cut the downpipe with a hacksaw, then position the butt directly under it (you’ll need an overflow pipe if you use this method).
  • Alternatively, cut a notch out of the downpipe and fit a rain trap and connecting pipe – this will transport water to your butt and allows you to put it in the most convenient locations.

Buy Now: Harcostar Universal Rain Trap, £15.99, Crocus

Water recycling

Every time we take a shower or have a bath, water goes down the drain when it could be recycled for the garden. Water Two is a valve that fits easily to your bathroom waste pipe.

Just pull on a cord and the wastewater is diverted via a hose into a water butt outside – ready to use. The valve only takes grey water (from baths and basins – not the toilet!) and you can choose to send water with bleach or chemicals down the drain.

Buy Now: Bathwater Diverter Valve costs £29.99 from Watertwo

Now you have the knowledge to use rain to your advantage, so turn that frown upside down the next time the heavens open.