Drip Watering System That Costs Only Nickels and Time.

Introduction: Drip Watering System That Costs Only Nickels and Time.

About: I'm a gal who's always on the lookout for what other folks call garbage that I can make into something useful. I'm a thrift store/yard and garage sale/Goodwill "Bin/Outlet" store junkie. My craft room overfl…

I needed a watering system because I have trouble getting around due to health issues and it's really not fair to my spawn that he be the one to do the watering every day.  Fourteen year old boys want to be in a swimming pool, not standing in the sun providing cool refreshment to a container garden.

My husband says we have all but one part necessary to build a normal drip system but because he is an incredible procrastinator and we're low on cash I decided to see what I could find online.

I started here, of course.  My favorite is "IcePop Drip Irrigation" by marcintosh but because I am container gardening, I don't have quite the room necessary in each container to lay a bottle down.  Others that I saw would require creating some kind of hanging bottle system which I wanted to avoid as I want my little garden to look as natural as possible and you just can't get that with plastic bottles dangling around.  

My inspiration for this instructable came from Gayla Sanders at You Grow Girl.  Mine is different only in that I put a different number of holes in my lids and used various sizes of bottles based on the size of the planter they'll be used in.  Oh, and I didn't use a serrated knife to cut the bottoms from my bottles because I figured that scissors would work more quickly and easily.

What you will need:

(List based on making one waterer.  Multiply appropriately for however many you need.)

20 ounce plastic bottle with lid (soda, or juice washed out, if it was water, no need of course.)
Safety glasses
Sharp paring knife
Kitchen Shears
1/16" drill bit
Solid surface on which to do your drilling

So gather your supplies and click ahead to the first step.

(Picture with the finished product nestled amongst the greenery of one of my plants coming soon.)

Step 1: Stabby Stabby Snip Snip (Or: Preparing the Bottles)

In step one we deal with the bottle.

First, put on your safety goggles.  No, they're not as sexy as a pirate eye-patch, but you want a drip system, not a hospital bill, right?  Right!

On your firm surface (mine is an old Formica covered drawer front on the kitchen table) firmly hold the bottle in one hand and set the tip of the knife at a straight up and down angle, near the end of the bottle.  Quickly and firmly stab the bottle to avoid the bottle crumpling under the pressure of a slow stab.  Do NOT rear back Psycho style shrieking, "SKREE! SKREE! SKREE!" When you do this.  You'll only freak out your neighbors and probably end up stabbing yourself.  We're still trying to avoid that hospital visit.

After the hole has been made with the knife, work the bottom blade of your shears into the hole and cut your way around until the bottom is off.

Step 2: Ooooo.... Power Tooools... (Or: Preparing the Lids)

Now take up your drill complete with 1/16" bit and your lid.  Keep those safety glasses on!!

Put the lid, opening side down as shown in the picture, on your work surface.  Drill straight down, but don't push too hard or you'll whip right through the plastic and start drilling into your work surface.  The weight of your drill will probably be enough to make the hole.

I experimented a bit with how many holes to use.  I started with 3 and put it in a pot of soil.  It drained out in less than five minutes.  One hole may work but I'm starting with two to see how I like it.  If the bottles are empty in an hour, I'll clog a hole with Mighty Putty or something.

Step 3: Ta DAAAAA! (Or: Finishing Up)

Here's the easy part:

Make sure there aren't bits of plastic clogging the holes.

Screw the lid back onto the bottle.

Dig a small hole that is as as big around as the bottle and the same depth as the length of the bottle from the top of the cap to where it widens to it's widest.

Put the bottle into the hole, and fill the bottle with water.

How long it takes the bottle to empty will be based on how many holes you put in the lid, how much sun the plant gets, whether or not rain can get into the bottle, and how moist your soil is.  

I suggest that you check it a few times a day until you know what to expect then water as needed.   You can even add liquid fertilizer once every couple of weeks and it will go straight to the roots.

Don't throw these away in the fall!  Simply rinse them off and store them for use next year.  

I'm sure that smaller bottles can be used for indoor plants or smaller outdoor plants, and two and three liter bottles could easily be used for large containers or even trees.  Give it a shot and let me know how it works for you! 

(Photography credits go mostly to my spawn.  I did the rest myself.)

You're not still wearing those safety glasses are you?  Whatever for, silly?

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Rowan. One of the reasons this system drains so fast is the open top. If you try joining two bottles together (ie the tops of two bottles) with holes in both tops, the closing of the surface top slows the drainage rate and prevents flooding. There is some technical name to this action. Alternatively, pierce the bottom of an intact bottle with 3 needle holes, bury and fill, then screw on the top. This also works allowing too. I get 3-4 days out of mine this way. I zip along and unscrew all tops, then water the pots and fill the bottles. Cuts watering down from daily to 4 daily.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I like cutting the whole bottom off to make it easy to re-fill. Great idea. Big plus also if it rains it fills itself and will still slowly water your plants when the rain ends. Thanks.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    I have now! :) I like the idea of burying the whole bottle, too. There are lots of variations for this project! Weirdly, I didn't see yours or Kiteman's when I did this one. I tried all kinds of search terms but nothing brought either of you up. Now I feel like a copy cat! :(


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    You wrote: Now I feel like a copy cat! :(

    PLEASE DON'T feel that way.  Your way is different, and has a different approach to it.  There are many ways to do any one thing, and they are all acceptable and charished here.