How to Build a Self Watering Planter

If you like fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden but don't think you can have a garden of your own, this is the project for you.

It can be hard to keep gardens properly watered during hot summers. Skyrocketing temperatures, sunny days and trips out of town all prevent gardeners from keeping up with their plants’ demands.

Here’s the cure to a thirsty garden: a sub-irrigated planter. We’ll show you how to make a self watering planter so your plants can hydrate on their own.

What is a Self Watering Planter?

A self watering planter lets you leave your herbs and veggies for a week or longer. The planter will do the watering for you. There are plenty of systems available for purchase online and from garden stores, but this DIY version gives more creative freedom. You can turn any container into a self watering planter with these steps.

Benefits of Self Watering Planters

A self watering planter is sort of like an automatic pet feeder. It provides care automatically, making your life easier.

Even if you forget to manually water, or go out of town, a self watering planter will keep your garden healthy. The garden will pull water from the pipes as its soil dries. You won’t need to ask a neighbor to water your garden, and you’ll still have living plants when you return from vacation.

How To Make a Self Watering Planter

  1. Build a planter. Ours is cedar.
  2. Line the planter. We used a pond liner to prevent the wood from rotting.
  3. Lay four-inch perforated drain pipes next to each other in the bottom of the container. They should be flush with the ends of the container. Use perforated pipe that’s covered with a fabric sleeve.
  4. In the top of one of the pipes, stick a short length of CPVC that will serve as the fill tube. The tube should fit tightly in the perforated pipe. The tube should be long enough to poke out of the top of soil once your container is planted.
  5. In the opposite end of the planter, drill a drainage hole just above the closest pipe.
  6. Stick a piece of vinyl tubing into the top of that pipe and run it through the drainage hole.
  7. Pack a soilless potting mix around the drainage tubes.
  8. Cover the whole work with a piece of landscape fabric.
  9. Plant the container as you normally would. Fill it with more potting mix and plants.
  10. Once the container is planted, stick your garden hose into the fill tube and fill the drain pipes with water until the fill tube overflows.

You can monitor the amount of water that comes out of the drainage tube and refill through the fill tube as needed. The self watering planters in this video worked for more than a month on a single fill.