Self Watering Systems for Outdoor Plants

Category Irrigation

Save water and ensure that your outdoor plants get watered even if you are away. This is a page about self watering systems for outdoor plants.



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To water outside plants while on vacation, simply bury a piece of yarn beside of plant and run the other end of yarn into a bucket of water. Presto! The plants will absorb water as needed. Happy gardening!

By Debra from Hampton

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July 26, 2006


We are going on vacation and I would like to know about the self-watering system for plants using gallon milk jugs. I remember something about putting rocks in the jug, poking holes and sticking it in the ground next to the plants. We will be gone about 2 weeks. Do you have any information about these "watering jugs"?

Thank you for your reply.

Hardiness Zone: 8a

Ruby from Cave Junction, OR



The self-watering system you're referring to is made by poking a couple of holes in the bottoms of milk jugs, filling them with water, and setting them near the plants you want to water. You can put a few rocks inside the jugs to keep them from blowing away in the wind. Two weeks is a long time without water, so make sure to test this system out before you leave for your vacation. You may need to adjust the holes (make them larger or smaller) depending on how fast the water is seeping into the soil. Also, make sure you water well and start with moist soil before setting up your self-watering system.


An alternative to the milk jugs would be to apply a thick layer of straw mulch over the entire garden, and then water it deeply (giving it 3 to 4 inches of water) either the night before or the morning you leave for your trip. The mulch will help the soil retain moisture, prevent weeds from growing and act as a natural fertilizer as it breaks down. Make sure you thoroughly weed the garden before you apply mulch.


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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

May 31, 2011

I've just come across a suggestion to use a wick from a container next to the plant pot to provide automatic watering. This is the first time I've seen someone doing what I've been experimenting with for some time so as to work out a way that those in drought-ridden places can irrigate their plants.


Does anyone have any experience of what I call 'optimal irrigation'? The photo shows a bowl supplying water to several plants. The egg cup is to check the flow rate into one wick.

By GrahamK


July 12, 20110 found this helpful

I connected 3 barrels with PVC pipe: put a faucet on one at the end, hooked up a water hose to the barrel with the faucet. I used the smallest drill bit I could find and heated on the grill, and burned tiny holes on the water hose by each plant. Bought a Holman timer from Dripworks and put it on the main barrel with the faucet. My peach, apple, guava, lemon, plum, and pear trees get watered automaticely with the timer for two weeks. I go to that property evry two weeks. The ground gets so dry, it gets inch size cracks.

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