Thursday, May 24, 2012

Making a self watering planter and recycling

Ok, so far you saw in my previous post that it's pretty easy to make a planter out of wood fence or pallet. I  added soil in my first one without really thinking if it's good for my future plants. I wondered if there's any better way to optimize the growth of the plants.
I have made a second planter that will sit next to my first one, and I'm ready to try a Sub-irrigated Planter (SIP) also wrongly known as self watering planter. You are thinking that I'm getting away from upcycling?! NEVER!

The principle of Sub-irrigation is fairly simple, you create pocket of air using pipes or milk jug at the bottom of your planter. This pocket of air have to have holes all around and don't have to be inter connected, one of these bottle or pipes need to have connection with the top of the planter so you can fill these pocket of air with water. In this example, a bottle of water makes this connection.

To know more about SIP, Insideurbangreen is a great website.
The advantage of this technique is that once you have filled the bottom of the planter, you use less water, you use also less soil to fill the planter. Your plants are much more healthy thanks to the extra oxygen on the roots and the results are obvious. I will compare my two planters to see if there's an obvious difference between them.

My planter will use trash bag to keep the bottom of the planter water proof, plastic bottle for the air pockets and a bottle of water for the connection with the outside world. You have also to determine the maximum amount of water you want in your planter by creating an overflow hole, usually around the top of the bottles (4 inches from bottom in my case).
I drilled plastic bottles I was going to trash
I connected one clear bottle to use as a funnel later
This is how it looks like.You only need one funnel per planter
I interconnected some bottles (optional) because I didn't have the lid, you don't want soil to go inside the bottle too much.

This is it, my planter is ready. At this point you need to add compact soil around the bottles; this soil will be like a wick and will bring the water to the roots. You need to water the plant through the funnel and stop watering when you see water overflowing. I'm impatient to see how my plant will grow!


  1. How did this turn out for you? I want to try it for myself in the summer

    1. Plants were really happy in the planter and I will use it again this year!