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How to collect rainwater on your patch

Collecting rainwater can not only save water, but it can lower the risk of local flooding and save you money on your water bills! 

Installing a water butt is one of the easiest ways to do this. There is no shortage of uses for the rainwater you collect – you can use it to fill a bird bath, water plants, or even top up your garden pond. 

Water won’t get wasted – not in our backyard! 


  1. Make a mini water butt
  2. Install a standard water butt
  3. DIY water butt ideas

Make a mini water butt

Stuff you’ll need:

  • Plastic milk bottle (4 pint/2.27 litres)
  • Scissors
  • Things to decorate your water butt with, such as paints, natural materials, pens, glue etc

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Clean your milk bottle; remove the label and dry it well.
  2. Use scissors to cut off the base, around 2 inches is about right.
  3. Decorate your bottle.
  4. Make it into a garden creature, use natural materials to make it blend in, or paint it in our favourite colour to make it stand out!
  5. Thread the string through the bottle handle and attach the water butt to a fence or a post – don’t forget to turn it upside down so the open part is at the top!

Install a standard water butt

Stuff you’ll need:

  • Water butt and diverter kit
  • Water butt stand 
  • Hacksaw
  • Measuring tape
  • Drill
  • Pen or pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Spirit level


Step-by-step guide:

  1. The water butt needs a flat, solid surface near a gutter downpipe to stand on. Prepare your surface and use a spirit level to check it. 
  2. Place your stand on the flat surface – the water butt needs to be raised high enough for a watering can to fit underneath the tap. 

Option one – next to the downpipe:

  1. Cut the downpipe and place the water butt directly beneath it. Follow the instructions on the diverter kit. Mark the height of the water butt on the downpipe. You will want to cut the pipe around 3cm from this point using a hacksaw. Attach the rainwater diverter fitting to the cut section of the downpipe. 

Option two – in another location:

  1. Cut a notch out of the downpipe and use a diverter to carry the water from the pipe to the water butt – allowing you to place the butt where you wish.
  2. Place the lid on top of the water butt – this means that no small animals can fall in and it will keep insects out. 

For further guidance, check out this video from B&Q

DIY water butt ideas

If you feel like getting creative or have containers on site that could be recycled, why not make your own water butt? You could use:

  • A disused oil drum
  • An old bin and lid
  • A reclaimed whiskey/wine barrel
  • A large bucket
  • An old tin bath