Sunday, March 10, 2013

Self Watering 5-gallon bucket

I've read about self watering containers before.  I thought I'd try to make one to see how well they work.  The idea is to place one bucket inside of another.  The soil from the inner bucket will reach into the outer bucket and absorb the water.  A pipe runs through the inner bucket to the outer bucket and is used for filling the outer bucket with water. 

Here's what you need:
  • Two 5-gallon buckets
  • One 5-gallon bucket lid
  • 1/2" PVC pipe ~20" long
  • One can
  • Burlap cloth (not shown).

I started by cutting a hole in the bottom of one of the buckets.  I used the can to determine its size.

I cut a notch in the bottom of the PVC pipe so it wouldn't sit flat against the bottom of the bucket.  Then I drilled a 7/8" hole in the bottom of the bucket and put the PVC pipe through it.

I cut notches in the bottom of the can to allow water in. 

Then I placed the inner bucket into the outer bucket and put the can through the hole in the bottom.

Then I put the burlap in place.  It'll keep the soil from filling up the void holding the water.

Then I filled the bucket with soil.  I made sure that the can at the bottom was filled first.  In theory the soil in there should absorb the water and draw it upwards to the plants.

I drilled a hole in the center of the lid.  That's where the plant will go.  I also put the PVC pipe through the lid and used the top of a soda bottle for a funnel.

The last step was to fill it with water.  

I'm anxious to see how this works.


  1. Interesting idea! Where did you get the lid? I have lots of buckets but no lids. Also, do you think the black lid will absorb heat and affect the plant, positive or negative? Once you get this tested, I'd like to know who often you need to water. We could use these at the community garden.

  2. I got the lid at Home Depot for $1.28. I didn't give any thought to the color. The lid should prevent the water from evaporating out of the soil and of course weeds won't be a problem. I know Lowes has grey lids. I might have to get some of those and see if there's any difference.