5 Creative Ways To Upcycle Your Old Water Butts

Image by Mark Chapman.

As this summer gets rainier and rainier, more and more people are turning to larger water butts to accommodate all the water they will, presumably, one day require.

This raises an important issue – what happens to the old water butts?

All too often these are simply discarded, ending up either in landfills or simply broken into plastic shards where they sit. This is clearly a less than satisfactory outcome.

So, here are five creative ways to continue getting use from your water butts after they are obsolete and unnecessary.

1. Use Them as Planters

By removing the top half of the water butt with a saw (carefully, mind!), you can use it as a handy planter for vegetables.

The plastic enclosing the soil should help to insulate vulnerable veggies such as cucumbers, allowing them to stay warm and alive.

2. Compost Bins

This is a great tip if your water butt has developed cracks or holes.

In fact, the more holes the better!

Keeping compost in a cracked water butt means that the raw material can decompose faster, with more access to air, and worms can get in to your compost more easily, making it all the more fertile and good for your garden.

3. Water Features

Water butts make for excellent water features. The lid can often be turned into a shallow bird bath, while using a few of the butts themselves can make for an interestingly-shaped pond.

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The steep angle of the sides means that it’s hard for soil and plants to accumulate in the water, perfect if you’re going for a very strict, clean-lined garden design!

You can also re-purpose them as part of a series of themed fountains and other water features, as the discarded recycled aesthetic can look incredible when used in this way.

4. Plant Pots

Once you’ve used the top half of a water butt for a planter, you can saw the very bottom off and use that, too – or, simply drill a few holes in it and use it as an ordinary plant pot.

As they are so large, they give a lot of room to grow for trees that are just about ready to venture into the big wide world by themselves.

5. Nest Boxes

Water butts, if properly rinsed out, can form the basis of a decent nest box for woodchucks and other similar rodents.

It’s up to you to provide everything else the animal needs, but it’s a very green way of re-purposing and re-using your old gear.

Any Bright Ideas?

These are all fairly standard garden products that you can make out of old or broken water butts, but I’ve seen some cool ideas before.

From a prohibitively heavy Halloween costume, to a makeshift sculpture of a robot (spray-painted silver), thanks to my more artsy friends, I’ve seen some very cool things made from water butts.

What about you, though?

Do you have any ideas?

Anything obvious that I’ve missed? – Let me know in the comments!

Estelle Page writes for Capital Gardens about neat tips and tricks to achieve the garden of your dreams.

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