Water butts to beat hose pipe ban

Mon, Mar 26, 2012

Climate Change, Water, Water butts

It appears that sales of water butts have rocketed  in order to beat the hosepipe ban.

Great news that people are thinking about collecting rain.!


Good also to think about what you plant this summer and choose drought tolerant plants to keep your garden looking good – with no rain or hose-pipes!


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- who has written 872 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and who is keen to "manage" the effects of shifting weather patterns on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and it has evolved over 12 years to inspire engagement with climate change outside our back doors, in our personal gardens and green spaces. My mission is to fertilise and expand this platform to grow a community of global gardeners communicating about the effects of climate change on our plants and exploring how each individual can make small changes in our lives to become more sustainable. The future of our gardens and #OurPlanet is in our hands - please plant your own seeds for our collective sustainable future.

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Angus McDonald Says:

    Is your butt big enough?

    I remember reading and/or hearing that effective watering requires approximately 1 gallon of water per square yard, lets say 7L per square metre. In the middle of dry weather I suspect you need more than this, especially for vegetables.

    Another reference I came across recommended 40L per square metre for Mediterranean climates. Cripes, that’s a lot of watering cans.

    Your average butt size, which Joe/Jane public seems to buy is roughly around the 200ltr size. I would suspect that small gardens/wallets would attract 100ltr butts, while 300-500ltr butts/tanks go to larger gardens/budgets.

    So how much garden will the ‘average’ 200ltr butt water?

    Well, 28.6 square metres at 7ltr per square metre, and a mere 5 square metres at 40ltr per square metre. Yikes!!!

    Now, 28.6 square metres is a patch of ground roughly 5.3m x 5.3m or, in old money, 17.3′ x 17.3′; a couple of borders and a vege patch. 5 square metres would be 16.25′ x 3.25′.

    In a British drought (or our occasional hot summer) we approach or exceed Mediterranean temperatures, with many weeks being rainless.

    Grim. One 200ltr butt isn’t going to last more than about a day or week.

    So what can we do?

    One measure is, naturally, to have more and larger butts; and there are some truly gargantuan butts out there! However I have a number of issues with this

    1. They are very expensive.
    2. Many people just haven’t the room to install them
    3. They are incredibly environmentally unfriendly, being made of plastic, even if recycled.

    1 and 3 can be addressed in part by making, essentially a pond; I have seen designs for raised version – essentially substantial slats of wood, supported vertically in a circle, with a liner.

    3 is difficult, even with my way around it; except to have underground tanks.

    So what else can be done?

    1. Well, there have been many discussions of using grey water, and it should be used. This will supplement your butt size.
    2. You’ll have to be selective in what you water: Don’t water the lawn, it will come back stronger; Plant drought resistant plants, and only water those being less resistant; Maybe only reserve water for vegetables; Mulch like crazy, and water into buried pipes/plastic bottles which deliver the water directly to the roots, etc, etc.

    A water butt is useful, almost mandatory, but I hope from my simplistic calculations you see that you may need far more water butts than that single 200ltr or so example sitting next to the wall.

    Me? I’d go for the raised one built out of salvaged materials. Turn it into a feature. When we have lots of rain, perhaps grow watercress in it.

    Interestingly I came across this 210L water butt. Seemingly a great bargain. However, I wouldn’t know what grade or thickness of plastic is used or if it if UV stabilised. Caveat emptor!



  2. Angus McDonald Says:

    Correction: The line

    3 is difficult, even with my way around it; except to have underground tanks.

    should say

    2 is difficult, even with my way around it; except to have underground tanks.


  3. Elephant's Eye Says:

    We have 2 500 litre rainwater butts, in a Mediterranean climate. I reserve that water for pots, and acid loving plants that don’t like grey water. Over about two years, I have almost made it last thru the summer.

  4. George Ball Says:

    You might be interested to know that there are 700 litre water butts on sale for £249.00 and a huge 1600 litre water butt for only £306.99 at http://www.SimplyWaterButts.co.uk

    I have just bought the 700 litre and am going to bury to put it behind my shed – problem solved!

    Apparently, you can also bury these in the garden


  5. Keith Says:

    The other place to harvest rainwater is your greenhouse. When i researched this some suppliers offer special rainwater collectiion kits to fit their greenhouses. These guys offer them: http://www.blueworldgardener.co.uk/store/index.php?cPath=345. I thought it sounded like a good idea to start as i meant to go on!