Waterwise gardening: installing a water butt

Waterwise gardening
1-2 hours
All Year

Using less water in the garden helps reduce your bills and protects wetland wildlife in the wider countryside. Gardens can guzzle water. The average hosepipe uses about 170 litres of water every 10 minutes, more than the average person uses in a day for drinking, bathing and flushing the loo. Much of the water we use in the garden is drinking water straight from the tap. Tap water often comes from wildlife habitats live rivers and reservoirs. Reducing your tap water use protects precious natural water resources, and reduces energy use too because your water company uses energy to clean water. The great news is that plants and pond critters prefer rainwater. So an easy way to help the planet, wildlife, your plants and your pocket is to store rainwater by fitting a water butt (or three) in your garden. A standard water butt can hold over 200 litres of water.

Waterwise gardening

Step-by-step guide


Find a space for your water butt. You will need a flat, firm surface next to a gutter downpipe. Buy a water butt that fits neatly in the space.


Follow the water butt diverter kit instructions. Cutting through a drainpipe will need basic DIY skills but it’s easy with the right tools. Pop your water butt alongside the drainpipe, on top of a stand or bricks. Before it fills with water make sure the Butt is high enough off the ground to get your watering can under the tap.


Wait for the rain! Keep a lid on the water butt so that creatures can't fall in and drown, and to stop mosquitoes and midges breeding in there. As well as watering your garden, your water butt can also be used to top up ponds, which is far better for wildlife than tap water.

What you will need

  • Water butt
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Spirit level
  • Hacksaw
  • Hole-cutting drill
  • Rain diverter kit
  • Wate butt stand (or bricks to make your own)