The main concept is a raised planter that drains into a reservoir. A pump in the reservoir has a timer so it waters the planter three times a day. The reservoir needed to hold enough water for three or four days. I wanted to conserve as much water as possible and reduce water loss from evaporation. The planter needed to be both cosmetically appealing and weather resistant. Finally, it needed to be cheap.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
2 "Totes": One large for the plants/dirt; One slightly smaller for the reservoir
Boards for framing
Plywood to support the planted tote
sink drain tube
T fitting that fits the soaker hose and vinyl tubing
assorted screws / nails / glue
Plywood to enclose the frame
Molding to hide my terrible carpentry (The stuff is magic, I tell ya.)
A few bricks to keep the frame dry and off the ground.
Saw (table, circular, chop, trim, jig, or even a hand saw with a miter box)
Another saw for cutting the plywood. top. I used both my jigsaw and reciprocating saw.
Assorted drill bits/spades
Appropriate tools for your fastening method (hammers for nails/brads, Screwdrvers/bits for screws, clamps for glue, etc.)
Appropriate tools for your finishing method (paint brushes/sponges, rags, etc.)
Step 2: The Frame
When framing your planter you want to consider a few things. You want it to be strong enough to handle the weight of the dirt in the upper container. Consider how the load is going to affect your method of joining the boards.You need the frame to be a little longer than the long side of the upper container so the tubing from the pump has room. For the short side the tote, you want it so the rim just barely fits inside the frame and isn't bearing the load. You need enough room in the bottom area for you to remove the reservoir container and service the pump. The top of the planter needs to be at a height that is both eye pleasing and comfortable to weed and plant.
I ended up framing with a hammer and nails. I pre-drilled holes slightly smaller than the nails to prevent splitting.Next time I'll glue and screw it. After I build the main frame, I put the frame topside down on a flat concrete slab. I then put the upper container inside the frame upside-down. Then I put the 3/4; plywood shelf on top of the tote.(I ended up messing this up somehow and had to cut about an inch from the top of the tote) Predrilled and nailed some supports on top of the plywood. Flip it back over and you end up with a flush well supported upper container.
Step 3: Optional Enclosing
Step 4: The Plumbing
Cut your soaker hose so that when you make an oval from it it is about halfway between the wall and center of the container. Attach both ends of the soaker hose to the T fitting. Attach the vinyl tubing to the T and feed it from the inside of the container down through the and into the reservoir. Attach the tubing to your submersible pump. Drill a hole in the wall of your reservoir near the top and put a long piece of vinyl tubing in it. This allows water to drain from the reservoir if you overfill it or if you get a bunch of rain.