Portable Garden Pumps




Introduction: Portable Garden Pumps

With my raised garden beds over 200 feet from my home water sources, I needed a way to keep the beds well watered and the wicking reservoir full. Dragging hoses and using city water obviously is not a decent answer, especially when it comes time to re-roll the hoses and mow the lawn. Here is a decent, portable and waterproof answer that serves very well. The total cost is right at $100 using all new parts and assembly takes less than an hour. It's easy to move around at about 5 lbs and waterproof.

Step 1: Parts List

1 Rubbermaid Roughneck 10 gal plastic tote (Home Depot $8)
1 SP18 12v lawnmower battery (Home Depot $30)

2 15', 5/8" hose remnants (Home Depot $8 @)

1 Portable 200 GPH 12v marine pump (Harbor Freight $30)

1 Thunderbolt 1.5w solar charger (Harbor Freight $30)

1 12"x17 1/4" x 1/2" plywood scrap

2' quarter round (or other) scrap wood

4 #8 x 3/4" wood screws

Step 2: Assembled Unit Overview

Cut the plywood remnant to 12" x 17 1/4" to use as a base for the assembly. Mark the battery location on one end of the plywood, about 2 inches in from the end. Mark the location of the pump at the other end of the plywood with the terminals pointing toward the battery and the hose connections at the other end.
Glue and tack the quarter round in place as a frame to hold the battery, when the box is shifted. Screw the pump to the plywood in the marked location.

Step 3: Install the Hoses

Using a 3/4 wood boring bit, cut a hole in both sides of the plastic tote adjacent to the pump's inlet and outlet. Using a box cutter, make a 1/4" cut at the cardinal points of both holes, to allow the plastic to expand.
From the INSIDE of the box, force the male end of the hose remnants through the 3/4" holes and pull the hose through. The hole will close up around the hose forming a decent seal. Attach the female end of the hose to the fittings on the pump. Be sure to LABEL the inlet and outlet hoses, so you won't later confuse them!

Step 4: Install the Solar Charger Wires and Finish Up

Under the handle at the BATTERY END, within the built in indention of the tote, cut a cross about 1" in diameter. Force the connector of the solar charger through the cross you cut at the battery end of the box. Connect the solar charger to the battery using the battery clips supplied with the charger. Hang the charger in an area with a clear sky view, facing approximately west/ southwest. Connect the negative lead of the pump to the battery, leaving the positive lead free for now.
To use the system, just drop the inlet hose in a water barrel or clear stream (using a filter) and connect the positive pump lead to the positive battery post. You'll have a full strength hose instantly, wherever you want it.

You can certainly dress this up by replacing the battery clips with connectors and adding a waterproof on/off switch, but this works just fine.

Be the First to Share


    • Edible Art Challenge

      Edible Art Challenge
    • Reclaimed Materials Contest

      Reclaimed Materials Contest
    • Paint Challenge

      Paint Challenge



    2 years ago

    hi TXTurner, I'm new to instructables and just read your article from a few years ago. I was hoping you could comment on how this has held up and if you'd make any changes now that you've bee using it for some time now? Thanks, moreyrd


    Reply 2 years ago

    Hey, @moreyd! It works great. I just used it today, in reverse, for draining a large reservoir of water so I could move the barrel. Beats turing it over! I used it during the summer for watering the garden. Problems? Yes, the plastic cover to the storage bin rots in the sun and let's in water so make sure there are drain holes cut in the bottom of the bin - put a heavy trash bag over the cover to protect it. If the hose is left folded it will develop a kink that restricts water flow, so make sure it is stored flat and straight. Finally, don't let the pump run dry. If you haven't used it for while pour water down the input hose to fill the pump before starting.

    Just wondering if that solar charger is enough to recharge the battery between uses? I made a very similar setup and ordered a Sunforce 20 W panel. I now need a way to catch enough rainwater...thanks for sharing!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The solar charger you ordered will do a fine job of recharging the system. I added an additional small panel to my set up and can use it every other day without a problem. With a 20 watt panel charging your battery you won't have any difficulty recharging what the pump pulled out by the following day.Make sure the panel faces southwest for max generation.
    For rainwater catchment, I put a flex pipe on one of my roof downspouts about 3 feet from the ground. A small rain will generate well over 100 gals in short order. I catch in 25 gal plastic bins, which I then move to the garden area on a wagon and pump into 55 gal plastic drums for storage but any combination will work fine.

    PBR Street gang
    PBR Street gang

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks so much for the info. Looking forward to putting it all together. Cheers ~PBR


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I built a potting station for my wife with a "grey" water collection tank underneath. This will be a great addition so that she can use that water for watering her plants. thank you.