After the record-breaking hot weather and drought that affected much of the UK this summer, many gardeners are looking for ways to collect and store rainwater instead of relying on a hosepipe or garden tap to water their plants.


And with water bills on the rise it's becoming increasingly important to store rainwater, whether it be in a water butt, rain barrel or water tank. Rainwater is particularly good for watering plants as it's naturally soft and free of harsh chemicals.

So with these positives in mind, you'll soon find that making small changes in your garden to harvest rainwater will benefit your wallet as well as the environment.

Don't miss our expert guide to adapting gardens for drought, and if you're looking for a water butt, here are our favourites.

How to collect rainwater

Install guttering, water butts and water bowls

An easy and efficient way to collect rainwater is to install guttering along the roof edges of your house or garden buildings to catch rainwater run-off.

A roof downpipe can flow water directly from the gutter into a water butt for storage, or you can channel the water via extra guttering or rills to wherever you need it to go, such as a water feature, raised bed, pond or even a rain garden. A rain garden is a shallow depression you can create in your garden to prevent flash floods. It temporarily holds and soaks in rainwater run off, planted with shrubs, perennials and flowers that can tolerate water-logging.

Another great way of collecting rainwater is to install water bowls around the garden. Water bowls are particularly common in Japanese garden design, providing calming, reflective water features you can dip a watering can into for watering neighbouring plants. Some water bowls come with a spout or spillway so any excess rainwater can be diverted to where it's needed in the garden.

Don't miss our guide to drought tolerant plants.

More ways to collect rainwater

Cascata Rain Barrel

Collect rainwater

Installing a water butt is an easy way to collect rainwater from your roof and save money on your water bills. And while water butts perform an important function in the garden, there's no reason why they can't be nice to look at. We love this stylish and elegant water butt with its realistic terracotta-style finish and Grecian vase shape. It has an integrated planter at the top (or you can use it as a bird bath, if you wish), and is fitted with a brass tap and integral hose. Made from tough rotamolded plastic, this durable and beautiful water butt can hold up to 245L of water.

This water butt is 115cm in height and 63cm in diameter.

Corten Steel Water Bowl

Collect rainwater

Water bowls feature prominently in Japanese garden design, providing calming, reflective water features that you can dip a watering can into for watering neighbouring plants.

This water bowl is made from Corten steel, a special steel originally developed for bridge building and skyscraper construction due to its strength. Over time the steel weathers to develop a protective rust finish, creating rich, warm textures not always associated with metal.

Try filling with pebbles and a solar fountain, or simply leave to collect rainwater, and enjoy the reflections of the sky in the water's surface.

Rain Chain

Collect rainwater

As with water bowls, rain chains are another feature of Japanese home and garden design, providing a decorative yet functional alternative to water downpipes. Designed to be fitted to guttering, rain chains have pails or cups with holes in the bottom that directs the water down the chain. This creates a relaxing, gentle trickling sound. You can place a water butt, barrel or other receptacle under the rain chain to catch the water.

This rain chain has bronze-coloured hammered aluminium cups, and comes with a gutter installation clip for ease installation. The length of the chain is 8.5ft.

Spillway bowl

Collect rainwater

This beautiful spilling bowl with a patina finish can be used as a standalone water feature or paired with an existing pond or another water feature. Alternatively, try placing a gutter or rill underneath the spout to divert water to where it's needed in the garden.

Rainsaver guttering kit

Collect rainwater

Fitting guttering to your shed or garden studio is the easiest way to collect rainwater run-off from the roof. This guttering kit comes with brackets and clamps to fit to the edge of your roof, so there's no need for tools or drilling. The kit also comes with a downpipe for water to flow directly into your water butt, rain barrel or water tank. You could even try fitting the guttering to a pergola or other garden structure.

Rain planter

Collect rainwater

East of Eden's Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) planters are rain gardens in miniature, helping to alleviate flooding during extreme rainfall. The rain garden planter connects to your downpipe so it's fed directly by rainwater run-off from your roof. The compost and topsoil mix absorbs and stores the rainwater for the plants to use, and any excess drains out of a perforated base drainage pipe, and can be further diverted further to where it's needed in the garden. All rain planters are made to order.

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Raised bed planter

Collect rainwater

Instead of diverting water to a water butt, why not channel water straight into a raised bed? These bottomless, heavy-duty steel rings make striking yet minimalist garden planters, and over time will weather until a fine rusty patina has developed on the outside.

Most planters will arrive greyish in colour – if you want to speed up the rusting process you can apply vinegar, salt or lemon juice to the surface.

Rainwater tank

Collect rainwater

Rainwater tanks are a larger alternative to water butts, which typically store up to 250L of water. This sturdy and robust tank can store up to a whopping 750L. That should keep your plants well watered all through the summer!

The tank comes fitted with a snap-action tap and a removable lid. Free Flush has options for underground water tanks, too.

Self-watering plant pot

Collect rainwater

Once you've watered your pot plants with your harvested rainwater, wouldn't it be great if they continued to water themselves for a few days? This pot plant from Gardenesque ticks that box, featuring a self-watering tray that sits in the base of the pot to drain excess water and absorb when needed to keep your plants healthy all year round.

Better yet, this self-watering pot is made from recycled plastic (16 plastic bottles to be exact), comes in three sizes and three lovely colours. UV-resistant and frost-proof, this pot is suitable to outdoor use.

Ultra slim wall-mounted water tank

Collect rainwater

For a water tank that's a bit more discreet but stores a large amount of water, this slim wall-mounted tank fits the bill. According to Rainwater Solutions, this water tank is the narrowest high capacity tank available on the market.

The tank stores 235L of water and comes with a bracket to mount on the wall with ease.

Rainwater terrace water butt with planters

Collect rainwater

Here we have another water butt that combines water storage with growing plants. This 3-tier terrace diverts rainwater from your downpipe into the top container then cascades through the whole tower delivering water to the plants on the way. Better yet, this constant flow of water stops your stored water from stagnating.

The kit comes with water level indicators, capillary mats and a plinth for the water tower to sit on.


Don't miss our guide to saving water in garden design.


Abigail is a freelance writer and editor based in Hereford.