How to Make an Automatic Self-Watering Container


An automatic self-watering container is a pot for plants that has a reservoir in the bottom to hold water. Manufacturers of these containers call the containers self-watering because the water from the lower chamber wicks up into the soil. Although you can purchase commercially-sold self-watering containers from many garden centers, you can make your own self-watering container from items available at many hardware stores.

Step 1

Cut a four-inch diameter PVC pipe into four-inch-long segments, using a jigsaw. Stack each segment onto one end inside a 30-gallon plastic storage tub.

Step 2

Place the bottom of the top on top of the tub lid. Trace around the bottom of the tub with a marker.

Step 3

Cut the lid into two pieces along the marker lines, using a utility knife. The inner section should form a solid square, while the outer section forms a hollow square.

Step 4

Measure and mark a line around the exterior of the tub at a height of four inches from the tub’s base, using a tape measure and a marker.

Step 5

Drill a ¾-inch hole into each of the tub’s sides along the center of the marked line to serve as drainage holes.

Step 6

Drill a set of 1/2-inch holes through the solid square section of the lid. Each hole should be spaced one inch apart in staggered rows that are one inch apart. Drill a ¾-inch hole in the center of the box.

Step 7

Insert a section of three-foot-long ¾-inch PVC pipe into the ¾-inch hole in the center of the square. Place the square over the upturned pieces of PVC pipe in the bottom of the storage tub.

Step 8

Cut a piece of mesh window screen into a square that is slightly larger than the solid square of the lid, using the utility knife. Cut a hole in the center of the mesh window screen that is ¾ inch in diameter. Slip the screen around the ¾-inch PVC pipe and over the top of the solid square portion of the lid.

Step 9

Fill the top portion of the chamber with soil over the mesh screen and up to the top of the container.

Step 10

Cut a square of plastic landscaping fabric that is one inch smaller than the top of the storage tub, using the utility knife. Cut a ¾-inch hole in the center of the fabric. Place the fabric over the soil.

Step 11

Snap the hollow square segment of the lid in place over the lip of the plastic tub.

Things You'll Need

  • Jigsaw Tape measure Marker 4-inch-diameter PVC pipe, 16 inches long 30-gallon storage tub Utility knife Drill ¾-inch drill bit ½-inch drill bit Mesh window screen Potting soil Landscaping fabric


  • Texas A&M University Extension: Grow Boxes
  • Maryland Cooperative Extension: Container Vegetable Gardening
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Service: Container Gardening

Who Can Help

  • Colorado State University Extension: Container Gardens
Keywords: making grow boxes, self watering containers, homemade containers

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."