Focus Corner

Make your own Water Butt

June 23rd, 2010 by   (View Author Profile)

Yea Butt No Butt yea Butt….
“It’s nothing really, just an old wheelie bin and a downpipe”. I’m talking to Mickey Donaghay from Carry Garden Sheds in Fallask on the outskirts of Buncrana and he’s being very modest about his inventive water butt design.  The idea is simple enough. When he needs water from the butt, he lowers a six-foot long pipe from the top of the bin to the floor and “gravity does the rest” Mickey says, demonstrating how the flow of water starts when the pipe gets lower. It’s so practical, why didn’t I think of that?

Water seems to be a bit scarce this year.  Our natural garden watering hole is usually brimming with aquatic life at this time of year, but at the moment it’s bone dry.  I have even had to use one of our washing up bowls filled with tap water for the poor tadpoles to live in.  Most of them died scrambling around in the resulting mud when the last of the water drained away.  Water rationing is probably not far away so collecting rainwater from the roof is the perfect alternative.

Mickey usually specialises in making garden sheds, hen houses, bird feeders and more recently, raised beds for the garden. But today, I’ve popped in to see how he is making good use of one of our natural resources- rainwater.

Reasons to make your own butt

By making your own water butt, you will benefit in a number of ways.

· You can site several water butts around the garden or allotment, so that you don’t have to trek to and from one water source.

· 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 or the well is drying up, like our pond.

· Some plants really benefit from rainwater, as it is slightly acidic

· Making your own water butt helps the environment and can use recycled materials.


· Find a suitable container to hold the water. Mickey used an old wheelie bin, but you could use anything that is watertight that hasn’t had any toxic chemicals in it (steam clean if in doubt).

· Stand the butt on a firm base of gravel and concrete slabs, preferably slightly above the ground so you can get a watering can easily under the tap, or in Mickey’s case allowing gravity to expel the water.

· Check that the water butt has a secure, childproof lid. As well as protecting children it will also prevent debris and midge larvae from entering. If it opens like the wheelie bin, you can access water from both the top and bottom of the container.

· Select a downpipe that is not in a prominent position with plenty of room to stand a butt nearby, Mickey chose to use his on a large shed away from the house. You can always mask the butt with some willow weaving if you feel it’s unsightly.

· Cut the downpipe at the desired height and fit a diverter, you can get these from any DIY shop.

· Make sure that any water butts have an overflow pipe fitted so that any excess water will drain away from the house wall and check everything is watertight.

· That’s it, job done, all we need now is a drop of rain.

Other Options

Let’s have a look at some other interesting options to save water.

Rig up a plastic sheet over a hole in the garden, with a stone weighing it down in the middle and an old baked bean can underneath, then watch drops of condensation collect as the sun passes overhead. It has saved many a life in the desert.

Underground water storage tanks such as the one used in the gardening area of Buncrana UDC could be installed into your garden.  Collecting water from the house roof could supply the toilet, washing machine and any other use besides drinking (although you can get filters for this if you wanted to be totally independent of the mains water)

Water facts

· Water is the most common compound found on Earth.
· Four fifths of the Earth’s surface is covered in water.
· 99% of the World’s water cannot be used because it is either saline or is locked up in glaciers and ice sheets.
· Most of the remaining water is present in rocks as groundwater (approx. 0.6%), while just over 0.3% is present in rivers and lakes.
· Our bones contain about 72% water, our kidneys about 82% and our blood is about 90% water.
· Each of us need an intake of about 2 litres of water per day. This water may be taken as part of our food or drink.
· A person can live about a month without food, but only about a week without water.
· A person uses about 150 litres of clean treated water per day.
Dublin City Council offer water butts for €40.  Hopefully soon all local councils will follow suit.

If you are interested in contacting Mickey about a shed, bird feeder or his other wooden products you can phone him on 086 607 2194

Posted in Gardening, Gardening & Composting, General. Tagged with : ,
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