Self-Watering Portable Garden Pot… Do-It-Yourself!

We’ve found the answer – a DIY Self-Watering Portable Garden Pot!  Now that we have become successful at growing a healthy garden in our raised beds, we wanted MORE!  Here in Arizona on our City Farmstead, we have limited space and of course have to consider the hot-hot sun.  We needed something that was portable and affordable that could be moved around during different times of the year to accommodate our plants with their necessary sun and/or shade requirements.  I’m happy to share the “how to” on this fun little project that will help you with your gardening as well!

To make your own self-watering portable garden pot, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • 2 – 5 Gallon buckets (we got ours from Home Depot)
  • 1 5 Gallon bucket lid (can also be purchased from Home Depot)
  • 1″ PVC pipe, 24″(also… Home Depot!)
  • Jig Saw & Drill w/ 3″ and 1″ hole saws & 1/4″ drill bit  – can use other tools such as X-acto knife, box knife, jig saw, scissors, very sharp knife – whatever you have that can cut out holes in thick plastic.
  • Mitre Saw – can use other type of saw, anything that will allow you to saw through pvc pipe.
  • Hydroponic net cup – can use any type of cup such as cleaned out sour cream container – just be sure to adjust your hole sizes on buckets to match the size of the container & poke or drill holes into cup
  • Landscape fabric – enough to line inside of your 3″ hydroponic net cup with approximately 1/2″ lip

To begin, remove one of the handles from one of the buckets.  It should come out with little effort when pulling out from the handle holes.  The bucket with the handle will be the “outside” bucket, and the one with no handle will be your “inside” bucket that you will be doing most of the cutting into.

Drill a 3″ hole in the bottom center of the inside bucket using the 3″ hole saw.  Remember, you can use other tools if you don’t have access to hole saws, such as a box knife, etc.


Next, using your 1/4″ drill bit, drill 35-40 holes in the bottom of the inside bucket.


Then, drill a 1″ hole in the bottom (almost to the edge) of your inside bucket with the 1″ hole saw.  This is where the PVC pipe will go.


Place your inside bucket… inside the outside bucket.  From here, you will want to mark a dot where the two meet (see photos).  This dot is where you will drill a hole with your 1/4″ drill bit that will allow water to drain and indicates how much to fill the bucket.  Just be sure you remove the inside bucket BEFORE you drill, and put it back inside when hole is drilled.


Now we’ll move on to the lid… drill a 3″ hole in the center of the lid using a 3″ hole saw, and a 1″ hole along the edge using a 1″ hole saw.


The next step is to cut the lid in half (doesn’t have to be perfect!).  We used a jig saw, just be sure not to cut through the 1″ hole.


Take your hydroponic net cup, and line with the landscape fabric – this will keep dirt from falling through into the water.  If your using your own container, don’t forget to drill the holes in it and line it with the landscape fabric.  Without this cup, no water is going to get through to the plant!


From here, you will place the hydroponic net cup lined and filled with dirt inside the inside bucket’s 3″ hole that you’ve drilled.  You can then put the inside bucket inside the outside bucket.


Now we can move on to the PVC pipe.  Starting with your 24″ PVC pipe, cut one end at a 45 degree angle.  We used a Mitre Saw, but you can use anything that will cut through the pipe.


Once cut, place the PCV pipe (45 degree angle side down) into the 1″ hole you drilled into the inside bucket.  It will go through the inside bucket, to the bottom of the outside bucket.  I recommend you line up the pipe with the hole you drilled in the outside bucket (the one for drainage/spillage).  It makes it much easier to see when your water reservoir is full, vs on the other side where you might not be able to see when it fills.  You can then attach the 1/2 of the lid with the 1″ hold to hold the PVC pipe in place while you’re potting your plant.  Otherwise, attach the other 1/2 of the lid and this is where the creation of the self-watering portable garden pot is complete.  But, of course, I’d like to show you how it works, so if your interested – read on!


Fill with soil to the top leaving approximately 1″ headspace.  Transplant your plant of choice and attach the other half of the lid to enclose completely.


To fill your water reservoir, pour water into the PVC pipe, watching your drainage hole to see when it’s full.  You’ll know because water will start pouring out!


A couple of ideas when creating your self-watering portable garden pot… If you’d prefer a little more “decorative” version, you can purchase the more expensive colored buckets, or… you can paint your buckets and lid prior to assembly and make matching sets, or even a rainbow of colors!  Whatever suits your personal style!  We haven’t painted any of ours, but wish we would have prior to potting… here are a few that we have in our yard that we move around as needed!


Join the City Farmsteading Facebook Group to keep up to date on our newest “How To” additions, and how our City Farmstead is growing! 






Comments are closed here.

Follow Us On Pinterest

City FarmSteading

Stay In Touch

Never miss any of My Updates