Home > Eco Projects > Make Your Own Water Butt

Make Your Own Water Butt

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 30 Sep 2015 | comments*Discuss
Water Water Conservation Rainwater

In the UK, sometimes there's no telling whether our water butts are going to be brimming over or stone dry during the summer. The weather is becoming unpredictable, which is why it is always best to be prepared! Those that live in the South East and East Anglia will be well acquainted with the hosepipe ban. For this reason, a real need for water conservation is another motivation for making your own water butt.

By making your own water butt, you will benefit in a number of ways. Firstly, you can site several water butts around your garden or allotment, so that you don't have to trek to and from one water source. Secondly, rainwater is free, so if you have a lot of watering to do, you want have to rely on your drinking water supply - extremely handy if you're on a water meter!

Thirdly, some plants really benefit from rainwater, as it is slightly acidic (and unfortunately, due to pollution, is becoming more acidic). Plants that love ericaceous soil - such as rhododendrons, camellias and blueberries - will benefit from the acidic quality of rainwater. The fourth benefit of making your own water butt is that you can help the environment and spare your bank account by using recycled materials. So what are you waiting for?

Make Your Own Water Butt

The best material to make a water butt with is plastic. Not exactly attractive, but recycling the plastic will ensure that it goes to good use and doesn't end up in landfill. Plastic is also the best way to keep rain water in. Although wood lined with a pond liner or polythene is a good temporary option, if the wood is not strong enough it will eventually collapse under the sustained pressure of the rainwater it holds. There is also the chance that the lining plastic will become punctured - which would result in a miserable failure of a water butt!

There are different plastic containers that you can recycle into durable water butts. Old food storage bins are one option, as they also come with plastic sealed lids. Rather than leaving an open butt, a drainpipe-sized hole can be cut into the lid, making it a bit more child and pet friendly. You can spot these sorts of bins as they are usually blue in colour, and are often available on Internet auction websites. They tend to have a capacity of between 70 (around 15 gallons) and 200 litres (45 gallons).

There are two ways to access the water with these large plastic containers. You can either leave the lid off or install a tap. Leaving the lid off will give you quicker access to the water, but it may also encourage mosquitoes to breed. If your water butt runs low, it will also be difficult to access the water at the bottom of the container.

Installing a tap may time a little more time and effort, but will make the water butt much more adaptable - you won't have to rely on the container being nearly full. Water butt tap kits can easily be found in garden centres around the country. You can seal the taps in with special aquatic sealant, but be sure that your sealant doesn't contain any fungicides, as these will contaminate the water.

You should make sure that these sorts of recycled containers are steam cleaned before use. This removes any residue that might cause fungal growths. You may be tempted to source the same type of barrel that has contained chemicals. It is best to avoid these, as removing all trace of any potentially harmful chemicals may be next to impossible.

Other Options

Another option is to source old oil drums, although these may be quite expensive and difficult to find. They are, however, a perfect capacity for water butts, as they can store a more than reasonable amount of rainwater.

Recycled oak barrels are also a perfect alternative to a commercially made water butt, and will look highly attractive too. They can be sourced from dedicated suppliers, or directly from wineries. Like the plastic food containers, you will need to thoroughly clean your barrel before use. You will also need to install a wooden spigot rather than a normal water butt tap, and again seal with aquatic sealant that does not contain fungicide.

Whatever option you go for, you'll be doing yourself and the environment a favour! The more water butts you can site, the easier your life will be. Some of the options listed here may not always be the most aesthetically pleasing, however vibrantly-coloured water butts can be concealed behind a few well-sited plants, or partitioned off behind a hedge, trellis, live bamboo or an attractive latticed willow screen.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Agama
    Re: How to Make a Green Roof for Your Shed
    I want to cover a large log cabin using a sedum blanket. Is it possible to buy the basic blanket for planting up…
    10 July 2018
  • Diparsat
    Re: Make Your Own Washing Powder & Fabric Conditioner
    Show me formula organics detergent power making process organics show please
    27 March 2018
  • Liyahh
    Re: Make Your Own Cosmetics
    Hi I just wanted to get some infomation on how to start my own beauty brand and how much would it cost to make your own beauty range…
    15 March 2018
  • MakingYourOwn
    Re: Make Your Own Sloe Gin
    wiggy - Your Question:Hi I have sloes in my freezer for two years now do you think I can still use them to make sloe gin thanks wiggy
    12 March 2018
  • wiggy
    Re: Make Your Own Sloe Gin
    hi I have sloes in my freezer for two years now do you think I can still use them to make sloe gin thanks wiggy
    9 March 2018
  • CHIB
    Re: Make Your Own Organic Compost
    Autumn is the best time for this kind of work. Forking in some well rotted horse manure, well rotted leaf mould if you are able…
    28 January 2018
  • MakingYourOwn
    Re: Make Your Own Puppets
    HRMS44 - Your Question:Good Afternoon,I am hoping to make embroidered finger and glove puppets out of certified embroidery thread and…
    17 January 2018
  • HRMS44
    Re: Make Your Own Puppets
    Good Afternoon, I am hoping to make embroidered finger and glove puppets out of certified embroidery thread and certified felt. As these…
    15 January 2018
  • JanPez
    Re: Make Your Own Sloe Gin
    I’ve got some damson gin on the go, which I intend to leave until next year. In fact I have a few different convictions on the go. My…
    11 October 2017
  • MakingYourOwn
    Re: Make Your Own Washing Powder & Fabric Conditioner
    Jo - Your Question:I would like to know how much gram of soap do you use?Thank uOur Response:An
    3 July 2017