Self Watering Vertical Garden With Recycled Water Bottles





Introduction: Self Watering Vertical Garden With Recycled Water Bottles

Instructables Green Design Contest

Second Prize in the
Instructables Green Design Contest

Here how i made my vertical vegetable garden, starting from used big water bottles as planters. An automatic watering system keep the right moisture, collecting water in excess, using power from pv panels and a little wind turbine (vawt)

Step 1: 3d Project

The green wall is composed by 72 water bottles cut and placed upside-down on a wooden shelf. 
Two independent  water reservoir are present: the main is placed on the side of the building and composed by eight 200 liters barrels linked together, for collecting rain water. The second one is composed by three plastic "new jersey" street barriers, that can contain 80 - 100 liters each, placed under the shelf.
The circulating system is composed by two 12v pumps, powered by a hybrid power system, a vawt turbine in conjunction with two 10w pv panels.
Energy is stored in a 12v car battery via charge controller and a timer regulate the watering cycle (at this moment the set up is 1 min at 7 am and 1 minute at 7 pm.
Water is pumped from second reservoir to the top of the shelf, into a PVC pipe ( Dia 4 cm) where i drilled eighteen 3 mm holes (one for each planter of the first row). After moisten the first row, water goes down to the rows below until go back to the starting tank.
With hand activated valve i can refill the second reservoir with rain water from blue barrels.


Step 2: Planter Design

Last year I obtained from my friend Ricky a hundred of 18l PET bottles round and square shaped, ideal for my project.
The prototype of planter was a cut bottle filled with 1/3 of expanded clay and 2/3 of soil. To prevent the mixing of the clay, i decided to use felt bags sew from a mat bought on the internet. This solution create an air gap between the internal wall of the bottle and the soil, adding some aeration to the system. This bag are reusable and permit to remix the soil after harvest.
To obtain a little reserve or water in the planter i used a piece of pvc pipe ( 4 cm dia) sealed inside the bottle neck with rubber bands, but after some try i discover a better way to do the job, using the plastic cap of the bottle and a piece of hose.
To protect the PET bottle and roots from direct sun, i cut a juta net, found on ebay for few euros. This natural material give the bottle a rural/vintage look. To hold the mat i used a juta cord.

Step 3: Frame

The shelf is build in cheap pine wood, 12 plank 200x35x5 cm and 4 timbers 10x10 cm, 300 height.

Step 4: Watering System

two cheap 12vdc pumps are set to lift water from the "new jersey" one minute at 7 am e one at 7 pm, enough to keep the right moisture of the planters.

Step 5: Power

Step 6: Vegetables



  • Science of Cooking

    Science of Cooking
  • Pocket-Sized Contest

    Pocket-Sized Contest
  • Microcontroller Contest

    Microcontroller Contest

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




very nice keep going

Brilliant!! Thank you. I think I will try this with using 3x 5 gallon water jugs, and a miniature solar panel and see how I do. The size of yours is a bit intimidating.

I plan on making this...

Is it
possible to provide detailed plans for this instructable? Meaning parts
listing etc. - especially for the aquaponics system (fish tank and bio
filter tank), and power supply (Solar setup and turbine specs)? A private message can be sent in needed.

That would be much appreciated!

absolutely amazing! thanks!

thanks (i'm very late)

wow that is sweet! i have been trying to multipurpose our milk jugs and i think this will be perfect

Nice idea, post pics when done! Cheers

Those bottles are really big. Any reason it wouldn't work with 1 or 2 gallon (3.5 to 7.5L) bottles? Also, I can't believe you don't have problems with weight. Don't think I'm poo-pooing your project, I'm gonna build one, I just have questions. Also, I can't find those bottles least not for less than $10 a piece. Sorry if I sound negative, I just want help!

Hi, thanks for the question.
Big bottles means more space for vegetables and stronger roots. Those bottles are from office water cooler. Try recycling center for free!

You mention the use of felt material but unless i missed something the material I see wrapped around the containers is Burlap, rough, open weave material. Felt is a rather soft kind of fuzzy material and considerably more expensive. Just wondering.