Water butts and garden watering - how to do?

I’m seeking some help/advice please.

The challenge is to get some form of pumping going from my butts. Many of the reviews of the suggested pumps (mainly submerged) suggests they’re ineffective from being too weak or too strong via emptying a 200L butt far too quickly.

Lugging watering cans is getting a tad wearing :frowning_face:

Do you need a pump?

Would a slow gravity feed do the job if you ran a pierced hose permanently positioned on the beds in question?

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More the large-ish lawn that’s the problem.

Simply attaching the hosepipe connector to a butt (with minimal gravity pressure) isn’t workable, as I want to spray the lawn (in effect).

Ah. There are pumps specifically for lawns fed from water butts, but as you say they all have a highish output.
It depends on your rainwater pattern, but here in mid France once the butts empty around the end of this month, rainwater becomes scarce for anything other than precious new plants.

Why water the lawn. Let it go brown. It’s such a crazy waste of water. We are going to have to change to drought tolerant plants, here in the south at least.


I agree @hungryhalibut .
I water parts of my lawn once or twice a season just to stop the very sunny bits from dying completely. It always comes back. I fertilize regularly, which maintains a strong root growth to survive the dry times.

We have already started saving water from the washing up to throw on dry patches in the garden.


Consider reading up on fertilizer.

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200 litres isn’t going to water a largish lawn.

There is a minimum amount of water that needs to be poured onto a lawn before the soil becomes moist enough to release any nutrients. Approx 20l per square meter is required. Therefore, 200 litres will do 10 square meters.

I rarely water my grass, but when I do, I divide it into smaller sections, and water each smaller section over a period of a few days. With a mains fed hosepipe.

I feel that water is a bigger issue here in the city. (and many parts of the world …)

Pumping is not really required, all you need to do is elevate your water butt higher than the ground level that you’re watering. In addition, you can cascade several butts together to allow them to collect as much water as possible during a rainy season.

Here are a few tips on maintaining a healthy lawn:

  1. Mow it regularly and leave the clippings to decompose naturally. In less than a week the clippings will go brown and you won’t even notice them.
  2. Don’t allow your grass to grow too long because it will consume more nutrients from the ground (mow regularly).
  3. Grass roots are shallow therefore there is no need to overwater, a sprinkling should be more than sufficient.
  4. Grass is one of the easiest plants to maintain and leaving it to die (go brown) for a relatively sized lawn but also dependent on your location, could be seen as a sign of neglect (leaving it to wither away without intervention when pre-planning could have kept this plant in good health (a natural converter of CO²) since this monocotyledonous is still thriving as we know it (drought resistant plants (hyperbole) seem perhaps the preserve of the likes of Monsanto Corp (GM crops)). Water butts/utilising household drainage etc in this modern age may help ameliorate this situation. A well maintained lawn is an ecosystem in itself, allowing for natural decomposition as opposed to a concrete jungle (low maintenence convenience). Here in England, hose pipe bans are seldom enforced but watering by hand is still permissable. It has often been known that those complaining about water wastage also like to consume almonds/avacados (the irony).
  5. Do not water on a hot sunny day otherwise it will evaporate. It is best to wait until it is cooler, for example early morning or a few hours before dusk.
  6. Encourage more birds into your garden because their droppings will provide valuable nutrients.
  7. Aerate the lawn at least once a year.


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We have two compact water butts which are used to water plants.

Our garden area is 16 x 30 ft and 50% is planting.

During the summer the butts last about 2 - 3 days each.

When we had lawns I never watered them, unless fresh turf. Yes they got brown but they always recovered.

I have a Davey pump on my rainwater tank- it works well , but it is a large tank of 2000L, for 200L it might be a problem to find a suitable pump.

I use rainwater on the lawn when necessary as we like to have a green and not brown lawn.

Thanks - already doing mot of that and I’m not at all seeking to have a green sward, just to keep the grass green at most times although some edge browning is inevitable (due to trees).

And my various water butts (12 in all) are already raised above the grass level but that isn’t producing any material head of water.

Edge browning is not necessarily caused by trees because their root system goes very deep and their roots draw water upwards to nourish the grass. I think your edge browning is perhaps caused by the PH of the soil being too high.

The higher a water butt is elevated the higher the pressure (gravity) :relaxed:

Whats your take on adding calcium to the lawn? We have a quite high ph and its quite a ‘mossy bottom’ (shaun the sheep reference).

A cup of tea requires about 30 litres of water to produce the tea leaves. A cup of coffee about 130 litres. The irony indeed.

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If your soil PH is high then using calcium is a good and natural way of reducing the acidity (it is often added to waterways that have become too acidic). You may also like to use epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) for the greenest and lushest foliage :relaxed:

A chance to point out that no-one says I’d like a nice cup of coffee. We either say:

  • I’d like a Nice cup of tea
  • I Need a coffee

In other words, Tea is a pleasure, and Coffee is a drug

…Sorry to divert, pray continue…

Surely though the water is already available in these cases, or is it the case that extra water is being diverted from elsewhere to grow Tea and Coffee for the consumer and profit rather than supplying water for the local population?