Self Watering Containers

With spring warming up here in the Seattle area, I’ve been working on some garden plans. Most recently, we made self-watering containers out of buckets. The buckets were scavenged from a person who didn’t want them anymore.

I am growing some hop plants next to the south side of my parents’ house in these self-watering buckets. The sun shines in this location almost all day long; so these rapidly growing vines should enjoy this spot. Hop vines climb upwards of 25 to 30 feet. We plan to run string from the roof eves down to the ground for them. Hops are weeds so keeping them in separate containers will disable their ability to take over the rest of the yard. It will also be easy to put the buckets in the garage after the growing season to reduce the chance of the hops dying during the winter.

We had enough buckets to make three self-watering containers. My friend and his drill helped us with this project. We used directions from a Root simple video as well as written directions from their book The Urban Homestead.

Each container needs two buckets one nestled inside the other, so we had a total of six buckets to make three containers. We started by purchasing 1 inch PVC pipe and three small plastic plant pots.IMG_1865

First my friend drilled many small holes in the bottom of 3 of the buckets to provide drainage for the soil.IMG_1867IMG_1869

Next, we drilled a 1 inch hole on one side of the bottom to allow the PVC pipe to fit through.IMG_1870IMG_1871

Then, we cut out the hole for the plastic pots in the bottom center of the same buckets. We started by drilling a small hole and then used a jig saw to cut out the circular outline. We got lucky and the outline of a roll of duct tape was exactly what was needed. The edge of the plastic pot provides enough overlap that it will not fall into the next bucket.IMG_1885IMG_1886

The plastic pots were similarly drilled with small holes to allow water to enter the soil from the water reservoir. This had to be done delicately because the plastic is thinner and more brittle then the larger buckets.IMG_1889

Then we drilled 1 inch holes in the corresponding side of the bucket lid as well as a hole in the center for the plant to exit. We only had one bucket lid so the other two containers will be covered with black plastic and cut an X in the center for the plant to be threaded through. Covering the containers will discourage unwanted weeds from growing and keep water from evaporating from the soil.IMG_1873IMG_1875

Last we drilled a small drainage hole a few inches from the bottom of the last three buckets to allow any excess water to escape the bottom reservoir.IMG_1877IMG_1878IMG_1880

Then we cut the PVC pipes with a circular saw. The pipes should be long enough to allow the pipe to reach the bottom reservoir while sitting several inches from the top of the bucket. The bottom of the pipe was cut at an angle to reduce the chance of a seal forming with the bottom of the bucket while submerged underwater.IMG_1884

Since we were planning to plant vines in these containers we drilled holes in the sides of the buckets to allow us a place to tie string for the plant trellis.IMG_1888

Lastly, we fit each bucket together with its partner, placed in the punctured plastic pot, and inserted the PVC pipe.IMG_1890

We filled the top bucket with soil and filled the water reservoir via the PVC pipe.IMG_1892

Then we planted our hops rhizomes horizontally, as indicated by our internet research. Make sure you add plenty of water on top of the soil after your initial planting.IMG_1894

We then placed them in a warm sunny spot on the side of my parent’s house. And now we wait for them to grow.IMG_1899


One thought on “Self Watering Containers

  1. That’s quite a project! I didn’t realize that you drilled so many holes in the buckets and that you put a small pot inside the bucket. The hops are growing well!

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