The Green Gardener's Guide to Butts

Why Buy Butts?
Recycling shouldn't just be reserved for the kitchen waste, empty wine bottles and spent beer cans. As well as creating your own compost heaps to help nourish your garden, you should also consider using rainwater butts. Butts are usually placed underneath a downpipe so that they collect the rainwater as it runs off. This water can be used for a number of things around the garden, primarily watering your plants. Plants much prefer rainwater to tap water and will flourish given a regular supply.

Fitting your Butt Effectively
Fitting a water butt really couldn't be simpler, even the for the novice. The most important thing is to choose a downpipe that is perfectly situated. This means one that will deliver a reasonable amount of water and has plenty of room for the placement of the butt itself. Next simply cut the pipe at the desired height and fit a water diverter or attachment to the bottom of the downpipe. Place the butt in position and you're ready to start collecting rainwater.

Adequate Room for a Watering Can
Remember that most water butts will have a tap at the bottom to ensure that you can release as much of the water as possible. When placing the butt try to include a stand to allow room for a watering can to be placed under the tap. You will struggle to fill a watering can if you don't leave this room.

Most diverters should work in such a way that once the butt is filled, the water will continue to run down into the drain and not overflow the butt. However, this is only possible if the base that the butt stands on is firm enough to hold it steady and in position. If the butt is at an angle, the diverter will continue to flood water into the butt in the belief that it is partially empty. The butt will consequently spew water over the floor. This can be particularly damaging if the water flows onto doors or decking, so do be careful.

Diverters with hose attachments are available for a little extra, allowing the ideal placement of your butt anywhere in the vicinity of the downpipe. These can be particularly useful if you are restricted in terms of size or shape of the surrounding area. A hose attachment can also be attached to some butt taps. This saves the hassle of keep walking up and down the garden to fill your watering can.

If your water butt does not include a childproof lid, then get one. As well as preventing children from falling or climbing in, it will also help to protect from debris like leaves. Left for too long this debris can rot and attract undesirable insects. A good lid will also prevent mosquitoes from settling.

The Various Designs
When many people think of a water butt, they think of the lurid green plastic bins. However, while these are available at inexpensive prices from most gardening centers, there are numerous designs to choose from that are far more aesthetically pleasing. Wood and metal are commonly used materials, or there are more ornate designs available that give the appearance of terracotta or porcelain.

Water Treatment
As well as stands and diverters, you may want to consider buying water treatment, although this shouldn't be necessary for the majority of cases. Water treatment will stop the water from smelling unpleasantly and will also prevent the build up of green slimy algae.

Rainwater butts can be particularly useful during the dry months when there is very little natural water. The rise in water prices and the stringent drought restrictions that are enforced in many areas mean that the water from your butt can often be the only way to ensure your garden remains healthy. Of course, you're also doing your bit to save water, one of the world's natural resources that is being over consumed by the human race.