DIY sub-irrigated planter for $12: mortar tub, perforated corrugated drain pipe, and water bottle

Here is how to make a DIY sub-irrigated planter for $12 with a mortar tub, a perforated corrugated drain pipe, and a water bottle. The first two materials can be purchased from Home Depot, Lowe's or Amazon.

From the blog Inside Urban Green:

"The planter is a mortar box. The air and water reservoir is made from three one half round sections of 4" diameter perforated HDPE corrugated drain pipe. There is an overflow drain hole in the side of the box located at the top of the middle pipe.

The fill pipe is one recycled PET water bottle with the bottom trimmed off. It fits into a hole cut in one of the drain pipes.

Add the soil mix to the box. Tamp it down between the pipe sections to ensure good capillary wicking action."

Here is a smaller version of the planter below: Inside Urban Green: A Sub-irrigated "Bubble SIP" Water Conservation Test Garden

Materials needed:

- Mortar box - 26"x20"x6" - Home Depot (7-gallon mixing tray) or Lowe's, $5
- Perforated, corrugated (HDPE) drain pipe - 10' length - Home Depot or Lowe's, $5
- Fill pipe - recycled (PET) water bottle - free
- Growing Media - Fafard Container Mix (or equivalent), no top soil - 30 dry qt bag, $7
- Vegetable starter plants or seeds

This is the solid Flex-Drain pipe. You need the perforated version.

Optional materials for 5-gallon buckets and garden beds:

- Sheet Plastic Mulch Film (Amazon)
- Overflow Drains - 1 1/4" vinyl tubing
- Sheet Plastic Liner. The planters can be lined all the way to the top edge of the planter

The buckets are available at Home Depot, Ace, Walmart, etc.

You can make your own potting mix:

- 30% peat moss or coco coir
- 30% perlite or vermiculite
- 30% compost or soil


- For outdoor growing, the granulated fertilizer method advocated by EarthBox is a good choice. This consists of a furrow of fertilizer under the plastic mulch that percolates down over the course of the growing season.

- For indoor plant growing and maintenance, a constant feed method may be used. This consists of the application of a nutrient solution = 1/2 strength Dyna-Gro liquid fertilizer in the water. Dyna-Gro comes in different "flavors":

- Dyna-Gro - Grow 7-9-5
- Dyna-Gro - Bloom 3-12-6
- Dyna-Gro - Foliage 9-3-6

5-gallon bucket at Home Depot.


Inside Urban Green: Fire Escape Salad Bar
Inside Urban Green: Important Clarification: Corrugated Drain Pipe Is Perforated
Inside Urban Green: Easy To Make Sub-irrigated Raised Beds And Planter Boxes
Inside Urban Green: Corrugated Drain Pipe Sub-Irrigated Planter Bed
Inside Urban Green: SIP Reservoirs Made With Perforated Corrugated Drain Pipe
Inside Urban Green: Easy To Make Sub-irrigated Raised Beds And Planter Boxes
Inside Urban Green: Toronto » Rooftop SIP City
Inside Urban Green: Apartment Therapy Re-Nest: A Post About Sub-irrigation
Portable Micro Garden (PMG) - Sub-irrigated Planter (SIP type) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Water and Oxygen Reservoirs | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Related reading:

Related materials: Watts SVIG10 Pre-Cut 1/2-Inch Diameter by 3/8-Inch Clear Vinyl Tubing, 10-Foot Length Watts SVGE10 Pre-Cut 3/8-Inch Diameter by 1/4-Inch Clear Vinyl Tubing, 10-Foot Length

FIXA Screwdriver/drill, lithium-ion - IKEA

How to grow vegetables in containers (PDFs):

Container vegetable gardening - Iowa State University

Growing Vegetables in Containers - Cornell University

Growing Vegetables, Herbs and Annual Flowers in Containers from Cornell Cooperative Extension

The EarthTainer™/ InnTainer™

No comments: