How to build your own self-watering planter (2023)

Heim Outside planter

How to build your own self-watering planter (1)handyman familyUpdated: June 29, 2021

Build a raised planter box and keep tonight's lettuce on hand!

How to build your own self-watering planter (2)handyman family

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    How to build your own self-watering planter (3)weather

    Multiple days

    How to build your own self-watering planter (4)complexity


    How to build your own self-watering planter (5)Cost

    101–250 $


    Save water and grow healthier vegetables and flowers with a self-watering planter. This attractive cedar wood design uses a perforated drain tube to retain and distribute water.

    tools needed

    • clamps
    • combined square
    • rechargeable drill
    • countersink
    • set of drills
    • square frame
    • sierra
    • Puzzle
    • eben
    • miter saw
    • router
    • protective glasses
    • Brochures
    • utility knife

    About self-watering pots

    who doesn't love thatgrowing fresh lettuce leaves, tomatoes and herbs? Unfortunately,growing vegetablesrequired during summerdaily watering, which can quickly become a problem while on vacation. In the past, we'd hire the boy next door; sometimes he remembered, and sometimes we came home with wilted vegetables.

    But it turns out there's a better way to beat the heat and water your plants routinely: self-watering planters that you can leave for a week without watering. When we commissioned our editors to design some DIY self-watering planters, the results were amazing. The self-watering pots themselves were beautiful, kept rabbits and other critters from chewing on the greens, and we went weeks without watering. We have watered 3 times all summer (no kidding) and have had lettuces fresh from the garden until frost. In this article, we'll show you how to build self-watering planters. The secret of self-watering planters is in the perforated drainage tube.

    The total cost of these 3 x 6 ft. The cedar planter was $330. If you use treated wood, the price would drop to around $250. And we used a thick EPDM pond liner that was $120. (You can buy thinner versions at home supply stores for around $35. All other materials are available at home supply stores or landscaping/garden centers.) We left the cedar unfinished, but you could seal your own. After building the base box, we moved the planter to its final location, then added the self-watering system, soil, and plants. Even without soil or plants, this DIY planter is heavy!

    Step by step project (14)

    Paso 1

    Storing water in drain pipes

    Self-watering planters are sometimes called "secondary watering planters" or SIPs because your plants can "slurp" water whenever they want. Our version uses an inexpensive perforated drain tube with a fabric sleeve at the bottom of the pot. Once you've filled the drain tube containers, they allow air to circulate and draw water into the roots of your plants when they need it. When plants are watered from below, the roots remain constantly moist, there is less evaporation, and you don't have to water as much. The vinyl hose allows any overflowing water to drain away. There are many commercial self-watering pots: theEarthBoxis a great option, but you can easily create your own.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (6)handyman family

    paso 2

    The 8 main reasons to build this planter with automatic watering

    1. This protects the back and knees.
    2. You have less weeds.
    3. Water your plants while you're away.
    4. Save water.
    5. You have fresh vegetables right at your back door.
    6. It's easy to make the perfect soil.
    7. Protect your vegetables from hungry bugs.
    8. It is a beautiful addition to your patio.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (7)handyman family

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    paso 3

    Self Watering Planter Basics

    See additional information below for list of materials, cutting list, and selection of container plants. It's also important to note that we made a notch in the bottom to match. You can also attach the bottom to the 2x2s as shown and allow the liner to cover the gap.

    • Choose a location that gets at least six hours of sun. If your pot is against a wall, you can get by with less sun due to reflected heat.
    • A 4 foot wide planter is ideal for harvesting from both sides. Keep it 3 feet wide when placing your planter against a wall or fence.
    • Cover your pot with a "fish-safe" rubber membrane. Extends the life of wood without leaching chemicals into the soil (or food). You can buy fish-safe pond liners in a variety of thicknesses and materials at hardware stores, garden centers, and online retailers.
    • Do not use garden soil or heavy potting soil in your raised bed. Use a light, fluffy "no soil" mix that locks in moisture without soaking or soaking. You can also purchase potting soil specially formulated for self-watering pots.
    • Cover your containers to contain weeds and slow evaporation.
    • For more great ideas for building sub-irrigated planters (SIPs), check'

    Additional Information

    How to build your own self-watering planter (9)handyman family

    paso 4

    Screw the ends of the box

    • Choose the straighter 2x2s for the corner studs.
    • Align the pieces with the corner of your worktable to keep the assembly square.
      • Pro Tip:When assembling the ends and sides of the box, leave spaces between the planks to allow for expansion and contraction. We use 1/16 inch. Washers as spacers.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (10)handyman family

    paso 5

    Build the sides of the box.

    • Straighten the bent boards with pliers. The top boards must be straight for the top to sit straight and tight.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (11)handyman family

    paso 6

    screw box

    • Pinch the edges together and press down with your other hand as you screw each plank together to make sure everything fits together securely.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (12)handyman family

    paso 7

    mark for the pallet

    • To determine where to place the base of the planter, add the depth of the base, the thickness of the base, and the height of the drain tube, and add one inch so that the level of the base is one inch below the top of the pot. box.
    • Cut a block this length so you can easily mark the positions of the horizontal posts and beams.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (13)handyman family

    paso 8

    Attach the joists and lay the floor.

    Screw in the horizontal end bars first, then the middle bars. Mark your deck to fit around the uprights. For added strength, use 2x2s (33-inches long for our planter) horizontal studs for each end and 2x4s for the two center beams.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (14)handyman family

    paso 9

    Staple the rubber membrane in place

    • Fold the pond liner in at the corners and staple around the edges.
    • Cut off the excess.
      • professional advice: Do not miter the cover; mitered joints will open with changes in humidity. Butt joints will look cleaner over time than mitered joints.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (15)handyman family

    paso 10

    Position the drain tube and fill tube

    • Cut the perforated drain pipe to 6 feet. lengths
    • Space the drain pipes evenly on the deck floor and wedge the ends firmly against the short sides of the pot to prevent soil from entering.
    • Squeezing the ends of the drain pipe against the pot will prevent potting soil from getting into the pipes.
    • Pack potting soil around the tubes to keep them straight.
    • Insert a fill tube into the top of one of the outer drain tubes. From there, the water flows through the perforations in the pipes to the other drainage pipes.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (16)handyman family

    paso 11

    Drill a drain hole and attach the hose.

    • At the end of the pot opposite the fill tube, drill a drain hole just above the height of the tube.
    • Pass the vinyl tubing from the drain pipe to the weep hole.
    • Securely attach the CPVC fill tube to the top of the drain tube. It should be long enough to stick out of the top of the soil once you've planted your container. You only need one - the water flows into all the drain pipes.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (17)handyman family

    paso 12

    drain hole

    Extend the vinyl drain tube on the side. Once you're ready to plant, add the soilless mix just below the top of the pot.

    How to build your own self-watering planter (18)handyman family

    paso 13

    plants in the planter

    • Once your plants are in, fill the drain tube containers through the fill tube until water runs out of the drain hole (this may take a while).
    • Water is slowly channeled out of the perforated tubes into the potting soil around them, and eventually into the potting soil and plant roots above.

    You will have to experiment to see how long your pot stays moist. Fill the drain pipes when the bottom feels dry to the touch 2-3 inches down. When we installed ours, we filled the drainage pipes and gave the plants an initial shallow watering and then mulched around them. After that, despite an unprecedentedly hot summer, we only refilled the pipes three times during the summer and ate herbs and vegetables until the first frost!

    How to build your own self-watering planter (19)handyman family

    paso 14

    Video: How to build a sub-irrigated planting system

    In this video, Elisa Bernick, editor of Family Handyman, shows you how to make aunderground watering planterSystem that allows you to grow your favorite foods and keep them watered, even when you're on vacation.

    Originally Posted: May 28, 2019

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