Introduction: Toilet Garden

Picture of Toilet Garden

Where are the two best places to sit and think? In the garden and on the toilet you say? I agree.
Now, lets create the ultimate thinking spot.

The Toilet Garden is a self watering, maintenance free planter for your bathroom. Grow echinacea, aloe, arnica, lemon balm, and sage to replace items in your medicine cabinet or lavender, mint, and jasmine to replace your air freshener.

For this project you will need clear acrylic sheet, some scrap wood, a few screws, and plastic welding fluid and a terrycloth towel. You'll also need are a band saw, knife, sand paper, a drill and a 1/2 inch drill bit for plastic. I decided to make this project in the wood shop, but if you have a laser cutter, you can skip some of these steps and simplify the process.

Step 1: Pattern

Picture of Pattern

First things first, grab the lid off of the toilet tank. Don't worry, only clean water ever flows through this part of a toilet, so there is nothing gross or smelly about it. Trace the shape as of the tank lid on a piece of paper, cut it out, and use double stick tape to attach it to a thick sheet of acrylic. Actually, you could probably cut out a step by jus tracing directly onto the protective paper on the acrylic.

Step 2: Cut

Picture of Cut

Using a band saw, cut out the toilet tank shape out of acrylic, and use a sander to smooth the edges a little more. Before you move on to the next steps, check the fit on the toilet tank. If it needs any more trimming, just use the sander again.

Step 3: Polish

Picture of Polish

Bandsaws and sanders leave a pretty rough edge on acrylic, so the piece needed a bunch of sanding and polishing. I used sand paper in ascending grits from 100 to 2000. When sanding with multiple grits it is important to make sure you are sanding off all of the scratches in the previous grit before moving onto the next grit. It is also important to use a sanding block to avoid scratching the surfaces of the sheet.

Step 4: The Bending Jig

Picture of The Bending Jig

Time to get a little jiggy. Bending acrylic precisely is tricky without some help, but a simple jig will make it far easier.

I started by tracing the acrylic sheet and cutting it out twice in plywood. I undersized one of them by about 1/8th of an inch all the way around. Next, I screwed a block of wood to the undersized wood piece and stuck it to the acrylic sheet with double stick tape. Using a speed square I aligned the second plywood piece over the first and screwed it onto the block.

Step 5: Bend Sides

Picture of Bend Sides

Even with the jig you just built, this is still the trickiest step, so take your time.

Start by cutting and polishing two long rectangles of thinner acrylic (1/8 inch is great). The height should be about 4 inches, and the total length should be a little longer than the perimeter of the planter's base.

Using blue tape to keep the piece in place, carefully heat and bend the rectangle along the profile of the base. The best way I have found to bend the acrylic is with a heat gun. Be sure to wear gloves for this step, it will get pretty hot before it starts to bend.

Trim the excess acrylic off of the second rectangle with a band saw or jewelers saw and polish the edges to hide the seam as much as possible.

Step 6: Weld

Picture of Weld

Usually welding is a method of attaching metal to metal with electricity or heat, but you can weld plastic with chemicals instead. Acrylic cement comes in two types. One is a thin liquid that can be dispensed with a needle bottle or syringe, and the other type is a clear paste that comes in a tube. I used both types for this project in order to insure a watertight edge. The liquid cement flows easily between the acrylic sheets and melts the two together before evaporating. The paste cement works more like calk and fills in any gaps that may have been missed by the liquid type.

Step 7: Drill

Picture of Drill

In order for water to be wicked from the toilet tank into the garden, the planter needs some holes in the bottom. Drilling holes in acrylic is often problematic and ends up in cracked work and frustration. There are, however special drill bits for drilling fragile plastics. I drilled a hole approximately 3 inches away from each of the four corners.

Step 8: Wicks

Picture of Wicks

I tested a number of potential wicking materials, to make sure the wicks would be able to cary water five inches up from the base of the planter to the water level in the tank. Microfiber cleaning cloth turned out to be the best of the materials I tested. I cut two long strips of the towel and threaded each through two holes in the planter diagonally across from each other.

Step 9: Soil

Picture of Soil

Based on the research I did on hydroponics I learned that the best soil to use for this project would be a mixture of vermiculite and perlite. I ended up using an even mix of those two plus the soil that comes along with the potted plants.

Step 10: Plant

Picture of Plant

Since the bathroom in question doesn't have any windows, I looked for plants that don't require much natural light. I also chose mostly plants that don't need much water, because I wasn't sure how much water the garden would be getting through the wicks. Planting the plants in the toilet garden is as simple as digging a small hole in the soil and placing the plant in. If you have a little fertilizer you could through that in, but it's probably not necessary.

Step 11: Install

Picture of Install

Installation is easy. All you need to do is take off the toilet tank lid and replace it with the planter. Make sure the wicks make it into the tank and don't get caught on anything.

Once it is in place you don't have to worry about watering it ever agin. The wicks will take care of that for you. If there are no windows, you may want to install a full spectrum lightbulb to make sure the garden gets the light it needs.

Step 12: Sit Back and Relax

Picture of Sit Back and Relax

Now the saying 'when nature calls' has a whole new meaning.

For more creative ways to get grass into your home check out these other Instructables:

Grass Lunch Tray

Automated Garden

String Garden

Lawn Chair

Terrarium Table

If you end up building a toilet garden of your own don't forget to post a photo in the comments section below.


AliciaA48 (author)2017-02-14

For those of us without many tools, do you think it would be possible to flip the lid over as the planter and use a ceramic bit to drill holes for the wicks?

CobyUnger (author)AliciaA482017-02-14

It is worth a try for sure.

lovethebackwoods (author)2015-09-15

Very nice job - great photos, very understandable instructions - thanks! When I can figure out what plants will be safe both for and from my two wild cats, I am so making one of these. My husband, a biologist, says I can kill a rock garden. Maybe I can change his mind with this project...

I lost you at wild cats. You have wild cats? Like how wild?

Sorry, Coby. I did not mean "wild" as in non-domesticated, I meant "wild" as in "often misbehaving." We have two indoor domestic cats that are good at keeping down our (wild) shrew population. We also had neighbors in upstate NY who had a permit for keeping wild bobcats; they lived in a huge caged-in area in the yard - but that's a whole different story.

Sounds wild.

David Catriel (author)2015-09-15

Very original. Well done!

CobyUnger (author)David Catriel2015-09-29

Thanks David.

Akin Yildiz (author)2015-09-15

amazing. what a great look.. check out my custom low profile plant lights if needed;

CobyUnger (author)Akin Yildiz2015-09-29

Thanks. Grow lights definitly wouldn't hurt.

katellez76 (author)2015-09-15

Very cool!!

CobyUnger (author)katellez762015-09-29


Navier-Stokes (author)2015-09-15

That's pretty cool!! You could put solar garden lamps in there for night time night lights :)

CobyUnger (author)Navier-Stokes2015-09-29

Good idea.

grayl (author)2015-09-15

FWIW, the wicks do not need to extend past the surface of the water. Your pictures seem to indicate they extended to the bottom of the tank. As long as they are in contact with the water, your garden will be watered.

CobyUnger (author)grayl2015-09-29

Very true. The wicks are longer than they need to be for sure.

Straklin (author)2015-09-15

While doing some drywall repair in the bathroom, I nocked off and broke the lid of the toilet tank, and this is a great way to replace it. Its an old toilet, and I cant find a replacement lid. Thanks for the great idea!!

CobyUnger (author)Straklin2015-09-29

No problem. I hope it goes well.

zenniferose made it! (author)2015-09-20
CobyUnger (author)zenniferose2015-09-29

NICE! So simple and easy!

mlaiuppa. (author)2015-09-16

Unfortunately my bathroom doesn't have enough light to keep plants alive.

JustinK14 (author)mlaiuppa.2015-09-17

Very few do. Especially modern construction, where bathrooms very rarely have a window. It takes a lot of artificial light to make up for a missing sun. If you don't specifically choose shade-loving plants, count on a LOT of wattage for grow-lights.

СергейБ3 (author)2015-09-16

Классная идея! Себе надо сделать!!!

Squee (author)2015-09-15

Cool idea, I'd probably add some sort of lip around the edge just to be sure it doesn't get knocked off the top of the toilet. I'd love to see/hear an update on how the plants are faring and if the wicking material gets enough moisture to them.

dapstccg (author)Squee2015-09-16

If you look at the 1st photo of step 11, you can see that he attached oval pieces of acrylic to the underside to keep the garden from moving. He just didn't include them as a step in the instructable.

Saaraf (author)2015-09-15

Cool. I can imagine some slipping and sitting on it by accident. Haha.

DanieleZ (author)2015-09-12

lol great instructable, but my water flushing tank is inside the wall no chance to make this :(

Veewee111 (author)DanieleZ2015-09-15

Just route the small top off refill tube up to a garden box on a wall shelf and a drain back tube back to the toilet reservoir overflow tube.

Shows refill tube at nearly 1 minute here.

CobyUnger (author)DanieleZ2015-09-14


acabrera7 (author)2015-09-14

Any options / mods for those toilets where the lever is a button, situated on the lid itself?

CobyUnger (author)acabrera72015-09-15

I suppose you'd need to cut a hole in the bottom and weld on an acrylic tube of the same diameter and then make some sort of button extender. I've never taken the lid off of one of those toilets, so I'm not completely sure how that'll work.

Antzy Carmasaic (author)2015-09-12

That's genius. How long have you been using it and how much moisture can the microfiber wick? Is the soil mostly dry or moist? How about the difference in top and bottom layer?

I made this for the Instructables office as my final project before leaving the country, so I haven't been able to check up on it. It was working well for the few weeks before I left. The fabric wicks quite well.

Treker2 (author)2015-09-12

Wow! Great idea!

CobyUnger (author)Treker22015-09-14


smiliviola (author)2015-09-12

flower potty?

CobyUnger (author)smiliviola2015-09-14

YES! Great pun!

bankeratlarge (author)2015-09-12

great idea! it's a tad beyond my current skill level though, but it's going on my to do list

CobyUnger (author)bankeratlarge2015-09-14

I look forward to seeing photos when you do get around for it.

siccsinister (author)2015-09-12

try using a torch on the edges of the acrylic to polish them. If the are really jacked from cutting sand first.

CobyUnger (author)siccsinister2015-09-14

I don't like flame polishing. I've never gotten good results from it.

mdeblasi1 (author)2015-09-13

But where do i put all the things currently on the back oh the toilet.?

CobyUnger (author)mdeblasi12015-09-14

I guess you'll need to build some shelves.

Yonatan24 (author)2015-09-13

Maybe you can put a "Venus Fly Trap" plant so it will catch any bugs that like to hover over the toilet...

CobyUnger (author)Yonatan242015-09-14

A great idea Yonatan.

Laura Cullen (author)2015-09-13

Make an outdoor FLOWER BED. I had a partially rusted twin bed but no desire to use for slumber. So, I reinforced the bottom supports with pressure treated 1X2s cut to fit the length and enough to accommodate the base width to make a strong supportive base. I positioned it in semi-sun area, propped legs on concrete stepping stones. Across the mattress area I used different sized plastic clay colored pots and long narrow planters, planted with colorful flowering plants, trailing plants near the front edge, a couple of vines and some fragrant plants as well. Viola, a very special FLOWER BED.

BTW: A quick loo flower garden could be made by turning the tank lid upside down and using plants in pretty pots, watered from the bottom; maybe add some colorful shiny pebbles or glass marbles.

CobyUnger (author)Laura Cullen2015-09-14

Sounds like you are ready to write an instructable about your Flower Bed. Go for it!

BillJ1 (author)2015-09-13

I really like this idea, especially the self watering wicks. Great job!

CobyUnger (author)BillJ12015-09-13


Attmos (author)2015-09-13

Very nicely done. I really like this idea and, regardless of what anyone who lives with me says, I'm making one of these... Maybe two. :)

About This Instructable




Bio: I build, I teach, I learn. Happiest when covered in saw dust, sweat and machine grease. Visit for more projects and info.
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