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DIY Automatic Plant Watering System for Next-to-Nothing

Updated 7th Aug 2016

A lot of people like to grow vegetables by their own but having problem on how to do the right auto water irrigation. Today I would like to show you how to make your own DIY plant watering system or drip irrigation system.

Homemade automatic watering system for the greenhouse is a great choice to reduce your chore and it has its own benefits and features.

DIY garden watering system is for those who are keen on saving money by making their own gardening tools. The DIY garden water irrigation system is with the use of your own Do-It-Yourself drip hose and emitters. It saves on the fraction of the cost of purchasing either from a store and it is quite easy to make.

For example, for creating your DIY drip hose all you need is a 50ft hose. You can either buy a new hose or use a refurbished one. Then, lay the hose on a flat surface and use an upholstery needle and punch tiny holes 1-2 inches apart on one side of the hose, leaving 6 inches with no holes on both ends of the hose. Just attach your hose cap, turn your water on a low pressure and there you have your very own DIY drip water irrigation system.

Tools and materials you will need:

– Power drill
– 1/2″ drill bit
– 1/16″ drill bit
– 1-liter soda bottle
– water pick.

You may use a 2-liter soda bottle but we advise you not to fill the bottle more than half full otherwise the system may tip over, depending on the consistency of the soil. Also, if you are using this system in a small pot, you could use a smaller (i.e. 20 oz.) bottle in order to avoid tipping the whole pot over!)

diy automatic watering system
diy automatic watering system

Recommended tools: 1/4″ drill bit, die grinder bit or round file. The only thing that may cost you money (unless you have to buy the tools) is the water pick. I bought them for 20 cents apiece at Anne’s Country Florals.

Steps:

First, drill a 1/2″ hole in the bottle cap while the cap is on the bottle. You may want to drill a 1/4″ pilot hole first as some bottle caps may break apart if you try to force a 1/2″ hole right away.

Second, see if the water pick fits in the hole snugly but not too tight. If the water pick is too loose then the setup will leak. If the water pick does not fit at all then you need to widen the hole gradually. I recommend the die grinder bit over hand-filing because evenness is key to a leak-free setup. I use a different die grinder bit, that is, one that is almost exactly the right size for the floral spikes, so when the top of the bit is flush with the top of the cap, the hole is almost exactly the right size. Second – and here is the most important part of all – rather than widen the holes on a whole bunch of bottle caps and then put the spikes in, put the spike in each hole as you make it. Widening the hole with the die grinder bit melts the plastic just a little. Putting the spike in right away makes for an easier fit. Then as the plastic of the cap cools, it shrinks a bit, making the seal even tighter.

Third, drill a 1/16″ hole through near (but not at) the tip of the water pick. This will create two holes. For most potted plants this is all you will need to do. If the soil in question is very hard packed, you may need to drill another set of holes slightly further away from the tip and at right angles to the first set of holes. It is better to have too few holes and drill more than drill too many right off the bat. Test the flow rate before drilling any new holes.

Fourth, assemble the cap and water pick by inserting the water pick from the inside of the bottle cap. No adhesive or caulk should be necessary.

Fifth, fill the bottle and screw the cap and water pick assembly onto it. Hold it upside down over a sink or outdoors to see if you get water flow and no leakage around the cap and water pick assembly. Do not worry about the flow rate being too fast here. The water will flow faster when there is no soil to slow it down.

Sixth and finally, refill the bottle, screw the cap assembly on tight and test it in a pot with soil and no plant in case you are concerned. Do not place the assembly too close to the plant stem in order to avoid root damage.

(Note: if this is too much aggravation for you, we will build a unit for you for just $5.99, parts and labor, regardless of bottle size. Shipping would be extra.)

Here is an array of 20 ounce and 1 liter size automatic plant-watering systems. I tipped over a smaller pot attempting to use the 1 liter system and said, “I guess this calls for a 20 ounce bottle.” Of course you can use even smaller bottles as long as the cap is at least the same size as those in larger bottles. The cap doesn’t even have to be standard as long as it is big enough and can form a watertight seal when closed.

You can use virtually anything for your automatic plant-watering system. For some reason, other plastic container lids crack more easily than the soda bottle caps. These two container lids cracked as soon as the 1/2″ drill bit was introduced, despite a 1/4″ pilot hole being drilled first.

So what I did was start with the 1/4″ hole as usual and went straight to the die grinder bit to widen the hole gradually and…guess what? But be sure to clean the container thoroughly, because as far as I know, peanut butter and mayonnaise do not make for good plant food.

DIY self watering system for potted plants

Claber Plants Garden Automatic Drip Watering System

If you are lazy and still having no idea on how to DIY an automatic plant watering system, the best way for you to have one right away would be to get one ready made that available on the market.

Claber 8053 auto watering system

Claber is the one that may meet your needs. The starter kits that offered by Claber can be an excellent option for those who would like to get an easy and fast install drip irrigation system. This system is ideal for supplying water to plant pots, hanging baskets, windowsill trays, and etc. Every single kit has the ability to distribute to a maximum of 20 plants simultaneously. One of the advantages of having this kit is that it is flexible, extendable, and can be managed by using a water timer.

The Claber system is very simple to set up. What you need to do is just start your setup right from the tap, if you buy the kit with water timer, you can attach it on the tap. The next thing is to run micro tube from the timer to the first plant. Attach a dripper at the first plant, then run to the next, attach another dripper and keep on the task to the last plant.

Such setup is called daisy chain set up. You can adjust the drippers to control water release rate. You will find stakes with this kit where you need them to secure the water pipe in position for every plant. There are also micro tee connectors available for you to branch the water pipe into different directions. You can then use the micro blanking plugs to cap the end of the run.

When you want to clean it, you will find the task is really easy which may just takes you a few minutes. All you need to do is just wipe all of the parts with a damp rag and then let them dry. It is also possible for you to clean the internal water filter with the use of water and distilled vinegar to get rid of any lime scale.

Even though this product did the job very well, but there is one drawback that you might need to take care of where you need to make sure that you use pans beneath each pot to catch any overflow.

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One comment

  1. Hello!
    This post is an excellent tutorial on the automatic plant watering system. Thanks for sharing those invaluable tips on making one yourself instead of opting for expensive watering systems that practically milks gardeners and homeowners dry.
    Your tips are achievable without having to break the bank. Love them.
    :-0

    Cheers

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