Give Your Garden a Glow Up with a Self-watering Planter!

Green Home, Home Hacks, Home Tips, Recipes and DIY, Seasonal and Holiday

Love to play (ahem, “work”) in the yard, but don’t like the chore of watering your plants every…single…day? We feel you, especially during those triple-digit days when your plants need an extra drink, but you’d rather stay cool inside.

Good news: With this self-watering planter, you can keep your plants watered without leaving your living room for up to a week!

Plus, thanks to this handy guide from Family Handyman, your self-watering planter is a breeze and a blast to build!

Tools Required

●     Clamps
●     Combination square
●     Cordless drill
●     Countersink drill bit
●     Drill bit set
●     Framing square
●     Hacksaw
●     Jigsaw
●     Level
●     Miter saw
●     Router
●     Safety glasses
●     Stapler
●     Utility knife

●     Six 12′ cedar 2x6s (sides and ends)
●     Three 12′ cedar deck boards (planter floor)
●     Two 10′ 2x4s (top cap) One 8′ 2×4 (joists)
●     Four 8′ 2x2s (cleats) 24′ of 4″-diameter perforated drain pipe with sleeve
●     Pond liner (rubber or poly) Exterior screws
●     Soilless potting mix 1/2″ vinyl tubing (drainage)
●     1″ CPVC (fill tube)


  1. Screw the box ends together: Pick the straightest 2x2s for the corner cleats. Align the parts with the corner of your worktable to keep the assembly square. Pro Tip: When assembling the box ends and sides, leave gaps between the planks to allow for expansion and contraction. We used 1/16-in. washers as spacers.
  2. Construct the box sides: Straighten bowed boards with a clamp. The top boards need to be straight so the cap will go on straight and tight.
  3. Screw the box together: Clamp the edges together and press firmly with the other hand when screwing each plank so everything comes together tightly.
  4. Mark for the decking joints: To determine where to put your planter floor add together your soil depth, the flooring thickness, and the height of the drain pipe and add an inch to that so the soil level will sit an inch below the top of the box. Cut a block at that length to make it easy to mark the locations of the horizontal cleats and joists.
  5. Attach the joists and lay the floor: Screw the horizontal end cleats in place first and then the center joists. Notch your deck boards to fit around the vertical supports. For greater strength, use 2×2 horizontal cleats (33 in. long for our planter) for each end and 2x4s for the center two joists.
  6. Staple the rubber membrane in place: Fold the pond liner at the corners and staple it around the perimeter. Trim the excess. Pro Tip: Don’t miter the top cap—miter joints open with changes in humidity. Butt joints will look neater than miter joints over time.
  7. Position the drain pipe and fill tube: Cut the perforated drain pipe into 6-ft. lengths. Space the drain pipes evenly along the deck floor, wedging the ends tightly against the short sides of the planter to keep the soil out. Wedging the ends of the drain pipe against the planter will prevent potting mix from getting into the pipes. Pack potting mix around the pipes to keep them straight. Stick a fill tube in the top end of one of the outside drain pipes. The water will flow from there into the other drain pipes through the perforations in the tubes.
  8. Drill a drain hole and fit the tubing: At the end of the planter opposite your fill tube, drill a drainage hole just above the height of the pipe. Run vinyl tubing from the drain pipe to the drainage hole. Wedge the CPVC fill tube tightly into the top of the drain pipe. It should be long enough to poke out of the top of your soil once your container is planted. You only need one—the water will flow into all the drain pipes.
  9. Drain hole: Extend the vinyl drainage tubing out the side. Once you’re ready to plant, add a soilless mix to just below the top of the planter.
  10. Put plants in the planter: Once your plants are in, fill the drain pipe reservoirs through the fill tube until water runs out the drainage hole (this can take a while). The water will slowly wick out of the perforated pipes into the potting mix packed around it and eventually up into the potting mix and plant roots above.

One afternoon of work can save you hours every week this summer, while keeping your plants fresh and green. So, give yourself some time back this  summer! Water you waiting for?