Toilet Garden




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

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.

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



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62 Discussions


Question 3 months ago

Hello I would like to make a mini prototype of this with recycleable things. Would you mind helping me? I would really appreciate it thanks.

3 answers

Answer 3 months ago

Sure! What kind of things do you want to use? Do you still want it to go on the toilet?


Reply 3 months ago

Maybe I need to use something easy to get, like any type of plastic bottles and such. I don’t need the toilet to be fully functioned, except for the plant part. I’m so new at this, sorry if I’m being unclear.


Reply 3 months ago

The vessel on the top doesn't matter so much. You could really use any plastic container there. The important bit is that the wicking fabric reaches the water in the tank an is able to make it into the soil. I believe someone else in this thread used the tank cover turned upside down to hold the plants.


5 months ago

I love this!
I would add only one thing, I would be worried about water drips crawling from the holes to the edges. They might make it to the outside of the toilet tank. But if there were a washer (plastic or metal, doesnt matter) glued on to each hole then the water would drip from the washer into the tank and not run to the edge.
You have inspired me to want to make my own, I absolutely love it.

1 reply

Reply 5 months ago

Good point. I should have done that in the original one. Unfortunately my current bathroom has no windows, so it doesn't make sense to make a new one now.
Hope you send pictuers when you finish it.

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...

4 replies

Reply 5 months ago

You can use "Cat Grass" that is sold at a lot of pet stores. Cats love it and it's good for them. Then you would be able to "Mow your toilet". LOL. Sorry, couldnt resist.


Reply 3 years ago

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.


Reply 1 year ago

I have the same problem with no light and no plug for lamps so I’m going to try making one out of lifelike plastic plants instead.


Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

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.


2 years ago

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?

1 reply