Most plastic butts come with a child-proof lid, a sturdy base stand and a down pipe diverter to easily attach the container to the supply of water from your gutters.
Many years ago wooden water butts and barrels were quite common and were often made by the owners themselves from converted wine, ale and whisky kegs and casks. These are much rarer these days as more and more people opt for the benefits of owning a toughened plastic water butt.
Water butts made from real woods, such as oak look attractive in most garden settings, but they came become quite high maintenance and a challenge to clean effectively. The wood also needs to be treated with preservatives regularly to protect it during harsh winter weather.
If you really like the appearance of wooden water butts and barrels, there's always the option to choose a wood effect container - these look just like the real thing, yet they are cleverly created from moulded plastic. They are available in a variety of imitation woods including light and dark oak, walnut and cherry. These wood effect containers closely resemble old-fashioned wine and ale barrels and often come with stylish brass taps and antique hand pumps.
A basic small recycled plastic water butt capable of holding 100 litres of water will be reasonably cheap to buy at around £20 to £40, a medium sized container which can hold 100 to 200 litres will probably cost about £50 to £70 and a very large butt which can hold 200 to 500 litres of water will cost anything from about £80 to £200.
The traditional round shaped butts with a smooth surface, normally in green or black, are cheaper than wood effect butts which feature intricate shaping and moulding to make them look just like real wooden barrels and casks.
Most people choose freestanding standard-size or slimline plastic butts which they place beside a suitable down pipe outside their homes, or even adjacent to a greenhouse, garage or outbuilding which has a rainwater gutter on it. Others, however, opt for wall-mounted butts which are excellent space-savers and are usually rectangular in shape so they wall be installed in a visually impressive way on a wall.
Another type of plastic butt which works particularly well in contemporary urban garden settings are those which are crafted to look like slate, clay,stone, marble, terracotta rattan or even steel. These butts have been beautifully crafted to appear exactly like the material they emulate and they really do look incredibly authentic.
If you take considerable pride in your garden and surroundings, one of these elegant water-harvesting containers is more likely to enhance the overall appearance of your outdoor space than a plain and simple green or black plastic water butt.
Among the leading UK brand names for plastic butts are Harcostar, Whitefurze, Rainwater Terrace, ebertSankey, Ward, Steward, Cloudburst, Hozelock, Rainsaver, Be Green and Strata.
There's plenty of advice and information elsewhere on this site about choosing a plastic water butt, installing one and keeping it clean and free of a build up of green water, algae and general grime.