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Selecting the best water butt for your garden

Posted by Callum VP, on October 12, 2020.

When it comes to selecting the best water butt for your garden, you should take time to consider your options so you invest in the right product. From size and material, to capacity and shape, there are a number of things to weigh up. To make your job a little easier, we go through the various things to consider below.

Finding the right size 

To determine the size of the water butt you may need, you should think about the various gardening tasks and their frequency. Whether you need it to water plants and flowers, hanging baskets or just the lawn area, you want to ensure you have enough in storage when you need it. Always try to overestimate the amount of water required as you may be surprised at how quickly storage levels can go down. 

The aesthetics are important too – you will want to ensure it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb when left standing up next to your home. For example, if you own a period-style property, you may prefer not to invest in a large plastic water butt that looks bulky and a poor match, when a more traditional-looking style would be more appropriate. 

How to select the material 

The vast majority of water butts are made from plastic, but where possible it is better to opt for those made from recycled materials as it is kinder to the environment. You should also ensure it is fully weatherproof as the water butt will be exposed to the elements for most of the year, so it has to be able to withstand changing temperatures, wind, snow, sun and rain.

Not all water butts are made to look like plastic cylinders. For example, some replicate terracotta pots, while others look like rustic barrels, so you have a wide selection to choose from. You may also be able to locate real wood water butts, although these will require more maintenance as the material will look more weathered and word down over time, and wood in general needs more care and attention. 

Shape and colour 

You want to make sure the shape and colour is something you are comfortable with as the water butt is likely to be present in the garden for years to come.

The good news is that finding the right colour shouldn’t be difficult, as there is always a good range of colours to choose from. Most people tend to opt for neutral colours (greens and browns) as these blend in with the majority of house-types. It is better to avoid anything too bright or colourful (or not, if that is your preference) as over time it may not enjoying seeing it sitting in your garden. 

When it comes to the shape, most water butts are round, but you will also find some that are square, rectangular and of other similar shapes. The shape may be dictated by the room available in the garden, so always be aware of the dimensions and how this affects access. 

Other things to consider 

Homeowners with children should think about buying a water butt that comes with a child-proof lid. This enhances safety in the garden and will protect them from any potential accidents given the storage of such large amounts of water. You should also be able to buy mesh guards that will keep out leaves, debris and other unwanted items that would not help the overall health of the water if they found their way in.

Also remember that when it gets to winter it is best to avoid having a full water butt. The garden will not need as much watering during this period and because water expands when frozen, a full water butt could potentially split if left to hold too much water. 

Stabilising the water butt

Before you use a water butt and attach it to the downpipe, you want to make sure it is on stable ground and will not topple over. The last thing you want to deal with is hundreds of litres of water spilling across the garden floor, which could also cause havoc with nearby plants and potentially encourage groundwater flooding.

Some water butts can be purchased with an optional stand that make it easy to this, while another option could be to place it on bricks. Whatever you choose, check the ground is level and stable and is suitable for use long-term. 

Benefits of using a water butt

  • If you have a water meter they are a great way to reduce usage and lower bills
  • Plants and crops love rainwater – it contains much of the nutrients they need to flourish, the perfect pH level and no chlorine or harmful elements
  • Water butts have a positive impact on the environment – you use less energy and water resources, which is beneficial to both local and national ecologies 

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