How to make a Self-Watering Planter PDF

How to make your own self-watering planter out of a 20 gallon storage bin.

Turn a 20 gal plastic storage bin into an awesome self-watering planter!

Tools & Supplies

  • 20 gallon bins with lid

  • Section of pipe or tubing approx. 24″ long

  • At least 2 large plastic containers

  • At least 4 smaller plastic containers

  • 1 bag (1 cubic foot) of any garden or potting soil

  • 1/2 bag 8 Qt bag of Vermiculite.

  • Weed barrier fabric cut to about 2′ x 3′.

  • Drain sleeve cut to about 12″ x 12″.

  • Drill with 3/8″ drill bit

  • Heavy duty scissors


  • Mark the reservoir height, ideally between and 4-6″ high.
  • Measure the width and length of the bin at that reservoir height.
  • Measure and then cut the lid of the bin to fit.
  • Trace and then cut the holes for the larger plastic containers (the “wicking pots”).
  • Drill holes in the wicking pots.
  • Create a hole for the watering tube.
  • Assemble the bin, placing the smaller plastic containers under the reservoir lid to help support it.
  • Fill in the holes where dirt might fall with landscape weed fabric or drain sleeve or both.
  • Fill the wicking pots with tightly packed soil + vermiculite.
  • Fill the remainder of the bin with soil. Add amendments as needed.
  • Measure the height of the reservoir on the outside of the bin.
  • Drill a drainage hole just under the line.

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