I’ve been looking at putting in auto-watering for the front garden. We ran the piping in earlier in case we wanted it, and we want some herbs in pots on the patio, but don’t want to have to water them all the time. We are aiming to use water from a water butt if we have it, and mains water if we don’t. We have a huge roof area, so catching rain-water works pretty well, and water butt storage is dirt cheap, so we can use 3 or more so that one decent bit of rain should last us for ages. We were pretty stunned a couple of days ago when the fine mizzle we had for a few hours resulted in half a water butt full – I didn’t think it would have even wet the roof enough to run down the gutters.
The thing that has surprised me is how much a ‘pucca’ water butt hose pump costs – £50 for the Hoselock one in B&A (here) (ops – £49.98, not £50 – like anyone cares about the 2 pence). Compare with this at LIDL that costs £17 – 1/3 of the price. I can’t vouch for interchangeability, but it certainly does the job just fine, based on my quick test. For me it makes the difference between something cheap enough to simply try out and get pleasure in if it works, and something whose cost would never ever justify the saving in water (using price as a proxy for justification). If I felt that the LIDL one was a bit crap and would fall apart then I might feel differently, but it looks very sturdily built – more so than the hoselock pump anyway.
Apols if the links break BTW – they will at some point, but for now they should work.