Have you ever considered all the rainwater that falls on your roof and gets funnelled away to the drains? No, I hadn’t either, until I joined a community allotment programme and discovered how useful a water butt can be!
With summerhere, it’s time to think about saving rainwater ready for the garden’s thirstiest months. Here are ten reasons why I think installing a water butt should be standard practice in our gardens…
1. Fresh water is a precious resource, use a water butt
Here in Britain, we take our rainy days for granted, often wishing them away. Yet compare our green and fertile hills with those arid areas of the world where rain isn’t a given and we start to understand how this plentiful supply of fresh water is actually one of our most precious resources. Don’t let it wash down the drain unused!
2. A sprinkle of rainwater is similar to a light dose of fertiliser
Rainwater contains nitrates and organic matter, so it feeds and nourishes the plants as you’re watering them. Get ready for lush foliage!
3. Rainwater is 100% soft on plants
If you feel like you’ve always struggled to keep house plants happy, try watering them with rainwater! Rainwater is soft: free from the salts, minerals and chemicals found in treated tap water, natural ground water and surface water. The residues from these can be harsh on plants and will build up in the soil over time if you’re not careful.
4. Water butt harvesting saves money if you’re on a water meter
Outdoor water use accounts for around 7% of our total household water use on average, but on a hot summer day this can rise to over 50%! Don’t waste high quality metered drinking water on plants, use a watering can and saved rainwater to keep plants hydrated through the summer.
5. Rainwater is naturally pH balanced for healthier plants
Rainwater is slightly acidic, which helps create the soil conditions that the majority of plants prefer.
6. A water butt reduces your home’s carbon footprint
Did you know that each household in the UK has half a tonne of water delivered to their door every day? The energy costs associated with treating and pumping this water are massive, so any water savings are automatically carbon savings too!
7. Water butts cut pressure on other fresh water resources
Collecting the rainwater which falls onto British households’ roofs would save about 30,000 million litres of fresh water each summer – that’s enough drinking water to fill an entire reservoir!
8. Water butts support the recycling industry
Most water butts are made from hardwearing recycled plastic, so your purchase helps to support Britain’s green industry and keep a chunk of useful material out of landfill.
9. Water butts are quick and easy to install, and last for many years
Most water butts come with attachments that fit to your gutter’s downpipe. These divert the rainwater into the butt until it fills, allowing any excess water to flow away as normal. The instructions are clear and you need no great DIY skill. I managed to install one by myself in less than an hour!
Even if there’s no access or room to attach a water butt to the main downpipe from your roof, you could still harvest nearly 640 litres of water a year from a 7ft by 5ft shed roof. That’s enough to keep 50 tomato plants healthy for up to three months!
10. Councils now subsidise water butts by 60% or more
To encourage more residents to save rainwater, many councils have schemes providing subsidised water butts that can cut start-up costs to around £30 or less for a standard 200-litre water butt. Head to your council’s website to find out if there’s a scheme open to you.