Introduction: Up-cycling Self Watering Planter

This is a self watering wicking planter, made from an empty 10Lt water container.

My home is not connected to mains water so we collect rain water for all our day to day water needs... EXCEPT for drinking water. We get our drinking water for the supermarket in 10Lt plastic containers (these come from Aldi)
My wife and I go through a couple of these a week and the they were taking up a lot of space in the recycling bin. Also I get the guilts chucking out so much plastic, so I decided to turn one into a self watering planter for my balcony veggie patch.

You need the following:

  • A plastic water container
  • Craft knife
  • Wicking cloth ( an old T-shirt will do )
  • Soil
  • Seeds
  • Water

Step 1: Cutting Up Your Container

Mark off a line just below where the flat edge starts to curve into the container top. Then use a craft knife to cut a straight top to your new planter. Be careful when cutting the plastic, because it can slip and you'll end up with a ragged line and no fingers.


Mark a triangle pointing down about halfway between the base and the first ridge. This will become the overflow drain, so cut this out carefully.

Step 2: Making the Wick

Make and cut off the handle and keep the handle for use later. Then with your wicking material (an old t-shirt works well) cut a strip about 200mm x 100mm, fold it to make a wick 200mm x 50mm and push it through the spout and the back hole you made by taking off the handle.

Step 3: Making the Reservoir

Push one side of the upside down container to and wick into the container so that sits on the second ridge down ( just above the draining grove you cut. Then push the other side down until it clicks into place.


Take some more cloth and lay it over the wick and make sure is covers any holes or gaps around the edges. Now you are ready for the potting mix, so fill up the planter to about 20mm from the top.
You should be able to see the 3 layers: Soil | Cloth | Empty space.

Step 4: Adding the Watering Funnel

Remember the handle you cut off? This is now the watering funnel for your planter, so push it into the soil and now your ready to add seeds and water.
Continue to add water until it starts to pour out of the overflow....... and wait for your plants to grow.

You will need to top up the water as and when the reservoir becomes empty. Any rain will naturally water the planter and be stored in the reservoir without washing out all those lovely nutrients, You can easily see how much water is left.

Happy growing : )