Self-watering Container Garden





Introduction: Self-watering Container Garden

I made a completely portable garden that is self-watering. Each container has a water reservoir in the bottom that keeps the soil moist, and there's also a hole so excess water will drain out.

Tidy Cat kitty litter container (38 lb size)

4" perforated corrugated drainage pipe

1-1/2" PVC pipe

Potting soil

Step 1: Create a Water Reservoir

Cut a piece of 4" perforated corrugated drainage tile to length to fit the length of the container.

Cut a square notch in one end to fit the 1-1/2" PVC pipe

Step 2: Drill Overflow Hole

Drill a hole through the side, 4" from the bottom.

Step 3: Cut the Fill Tube

Cut the 1-1/2" PVC to length

Step 4: Assembly Time

Put the parts together as shown, add dirt, start planting!

Step 5: Watering

Add water via the fill tube until water flows out the overflow hole.



    • Paper Contest 2018

      Paper Contest 2018
    • Science of Cooking

      Science of Cooking
    • Pro Tips Challenge

      Pro Tips Challenge

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    At the end of last season, I dumped all of my containers in the driveway, pulled out all the root mass, mixed in a bag of compost, and put all the dirt back in the containers, and put the lids on.

    While I had everything torn apart, I redid some of the buckets to match these instructions, since I had changed the design a couple times (size of reservoir, location of holes, location of fill tube, etc.)

    All of my containers are dry and ready for planting, as soon as it's warm enough. I might even take them to the garage and get them going early. :-)

    Now that they've had some time to grow, how do you find it compares with your previous setup?

    Will this work for growing strawberry plants?

    Whats the difference between watering your plants every day or two and watering your reservoir every day or two? If the soil does not touch the water how does it get moist all the way through? Are you not concerned about root rot, and plants going fungal which can severely diminish crop outcome if not kill the plant? Isn't a plant in a pot already a portable garden? Cool idea, I just don't see the point. Maybe I missed something. I'm not an officially titled "Master Gardener" but I am a professional nursery worker.

    Best way I've ever grown tomatoes is a 5 gallon bucket with a few holes drilled in the bottom. Soak it real good every two days and they love it.

    i thought you went suposed to use PVC for watering pipes cause it leaches toxins?

    I'm an IL Master Gardener & use cheap 18 gallon tubs from Walmart as well as kitty litter buckets like this. You must use the white PVC pipe as that does not leach toxic chemicals & is designed for water system use in a home. Cut the bottom of the PVC at an angle so the water flows easily into your reservoir. The drainage tile is already perforated so water will flow out slowly. Best to cover it with cheesecloth or some other cloth to keep the dirt out. I fill the PVC pipe until it stays full for a while. But you must drill a drainage hole in the side of the tub just above the height of the reservoir. If water starts coming out the drainage hole you know your reservoir is full. Try filling daily or every other day until you get to know how often it will need filling as that will depend on weather and heat. You can grow just about anything in these tubs - I've grown tomatoes and beans with a trellis or cage. Melons also do well when supported with old pantyhose. Herbs do very well - I had one bin last summer with various herbs on my back porch right outside the kitchen door so it was handy to cut a few for cooking. A few starter potatoes will also work well, but start them low and add soil as the plants grow. The diaper pellets are a great idea to hold moisture into the growing soil and they are much cheaper than a bag or box of pearlite. One big box of disposable diapers will give you enough pellets for a lot of tubs. Happy Gardening!

    Very cool idea! Hydroponics but not soil-less ;-)

    Put a porous sleeve over the black water pipe so the dirt will not fill the storage pipe. Also, mix 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 peat moss (Mel's mix). This is a great soil combination for the vegetables. Look into Square Foot Gardening for soil mixture and plant spacing.

    One more idea might be to fill around the drain pipe with some light weight lava rock to increase the opportunity for soil O2, better drainage and a little more water space. You could also increase soil O2 by occasionally watering overhead which serves to flush and pull in O2.