rain water harvesting butts

peter donegan - rain water harvesting buttsI always reuse the grey water from my house & throw it over the veggie plot. Butt [!] it’s time to go a stage further. I wanted a water butt. It took a little research and I go two from… fingal county council.

Made from recycled plastic, Dublin City Council [their page is a little more informative] are selling them too. I dont know about the rest of the country. Sorry!

How much? I paid €40 by bin tags [which is tax deductable] and collected myself. Thats really good value by the way. I thought they’d be sold out – but – the guy in Swords Estuary Recycling Centre said the uptake hadn’t been so great. That’s a bit of a shame and a little surprising. Maybe water charges should come in after all?

HOW TO FIT YOUR HARVESTER[what the instructions don’t tell you]

Anyhow – the fitting is a little tricky. Partly, because my instructions were wet! remember – take your time – measure twice & cut once

peter donegan - rain water butt install 1] place the butt where you want it near the down pipe from your gutters. Hold the pipe in place [as it will sit]; mark where you will cut; make sure it reaches. Cut the down pipe with a hand saw and again removing about 1cm of pipe. You may need a little more – but a good ‘wallop’ [careful and easy! measure twice – cut once!!] should knock it back into place. The section supplied should now be in place & the black hose should now protrude.

rain water harvesting - peter donegan landscaping 2] With the butt sitting on its stand, you now need to drill into the side of the butt – again careful measure twice and cut once – to fit the connection so as the pipe from the downpipe will connect to the harvester and don’t forget gravity!

water butts - peter donegan landscaping ltd3] you’ll need a decent screwdriver to knock the lid into place

That is pretty much it! Careful when cutting – or you’ll take most of the paint off the walls [and your fingers too…!] and make sure and leave the tap in the off position… I don’t need to explain that one…. ? All one needs to do now is wait for it to rain.

We really should allow fixtures like this more readily into our garden designs…

21 replies
  1. Darren
    Darren says:

    That’s a really good idea. Of course, I’d need a garden first…hmmm…as soon as I get a garden, I’ll look into getting one of these. 🙂

    Genuinely though, they’re a great idea!

  2. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    A Chara Darren,

    as always, you are more than welcome to drop by for coffee and plan for that ‘rainy day’!!

    look forward to it.
    slán agus beannacht

  3. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    A Chara Collette
    as silly as this sounds….. but if there is a roof without gutters ? then gutter pipes could be installed and from there then a downpipe is easily installed. Other than that [ and i’m guessing here you may be in an apartment ] if you send me an email with some other information on the type of butt – they do vary – and maybe a pic/ sketch of where you would like it to go – I can take a look and get back to you here as a comment solution for all to see 🙂

    Happy Friday

  4. colette
    colette says:

    I have just started in an allotment which has no water supply on site. I do not want a shed as it is a small site 20ft x 12ft. it is in the middle of a field basically. whats the best idea for water collecting, for use in the drier months

  5. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    A Chara Colette,

    as far as I can gather, your only solution is a wok [you know the frying pans] type lid for on a water butt that does not have to connect to a downpipe. The beauty about that is – my water butt comes with that type of lid already – *you* just dont connect it to the gutter 😯

    Obviously the greater the surface area of the lid the more water you will collect… and the patch is only so big. Maybe more than one in the most open part of the site would be better…. water collection wise the weather this week is in your favour 🙂

    The only other suggestion is when on ‘remote’ jobs we often have to bring water to the site and for this we use 5 gallon drums of water that we bring with us.

    Again, water butt in mind – i dont really see an alternative for you. As long as it has that type of lid.

    No pic needed now. Let me know how you get on.
    many thanks

  6. colette
    colette says:

    Thanks for that. I had thought of modifying a standard butt to something like you have suggested. I have never seen a “purpose built” one though. Are they readily available…and where

  7. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:

    A Chara Colette,

    my apologies, they’re not purpose built its just the lids vary. Some are like a saucers/ woks [like the one I got from fingal county council] others are like upside down bowls in shape 😯

    therefore the one i have fills quicker as it not only takes it from the downpipe but from the ‘sky’ 😆 as well.

    In my honest opinion…. one soes their best and makes the effort. That alone must be applauded. It will collect water….. it just might take a little longer to refill… but then i will make you that extra bit vigilant of how you ‘spend’ your water and isn’t that what water conservation is all about.

    Go for broke and btw. Oh & make sure and bring some rain water with you to weigh it down when you first put it at your plot – otherwise they tend to fall over.

    slán agus beannacht

  8. colette
    colette says:

    Thanks for the info – have passed on the link to this blog to all our allotmenteers – you may get some odd questions as we’re mostly beginners!

  9. Ciaran O'Neill
    Ciaran O'Neill says:

    I got one too but the diverter does not fit my 70mm square down pipe. Can they be got anywhere, can’t find any on the web.

  10. Peter Donegan MI Hort
    Peter Donegan MI Hort says:


    there are a few variations of water butts out there… i have even heard of where the connection to the down pipe has come as round… ?
    If you can gve me some more information? that would be great – i’m guessing you’re not the only one… so maybe we can help mpre than you [Maybe email me a photograph and some measurements/ problem info and i’ll pop it up as a blog post ?]

    Other than that the last report of success where the fittings were odd [imported water butt not to Irish downpipe specifications aparently 🙄 darned downpipe manufacturers! ]
    …was solved via a trip to an ‘old style-ee’ [ie not a superstore type] hardware and the 2 brains managed to come up with a solution… unfortunately thats all the info i got.. 🙁

    I’ll put the ball back in your court for the moment…

    Slán go foill

  11. Philip
    Philip says:

    Now isnt that a wierd coincidence. There I was looking around for water metering systems from water butts and as it happens I know how you can down convert a 70mm to 65mm square gutter. Have a look at http://www.celuplast.com/pdf/CeluRainSystems.pdf and look at the rainwater head. You just replace the last 1.5m of your 70mm pipe with a rain water head and a stand 65mm that’ll accomodate your butt water collector. Celuplast may even have a down converter for you if you smile. They are a nice willing bunch of guys. Located in Baldoyle and you can order online and use paypal.

    Now, back to metering systems. Anyone have some practical experience of these. Potting plants is a nice way of “controlling”, but you have to water and fertilise as well. Commercial trickle systems and hozelock etc. are pricey particularly if you get into the timing game and then there’s the snag of pushing water uphill from a butt…meaning pumps and more dodgy tech. Thoughts?

  12. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    After discovering that DCC did bargain water butts from this article and then enthusiastically going into Shamrock Terrace to get one, I hit a bit of a snag.

    Philip, thanks for the tip Celuplast in Baldoyle. After cutting my 80mm round downpipe, I only then realised my problem. Had to go a different route. Got a hopper plus new 68mm round with bends and clips. Costing an additional 32 euro, but I would have to do it anyway no matter where I got the water butt.

    Do I really want it to rain now ?

  13. peter donegan
    peter donegan says:


    Might I ask – if you knew then what you know know. What would a) you do different and b) what would you recommend Dublin City Council (DCC) do different ?

    Thanks for commenting by 😉
    Best for now

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