How to Make a Self-Irrigation System

Use this kid-friendly step-by-step guide to make a self-irrigation system for container plants.
Related To:

Materials Needed:

  • plastic planter
  • sheet of expanded polystyrene
  • craft knife
  • plastic pipe
  • small plastic pot (like a yogurt container)

1. Cut a Polystyrene Disk

Ask an adult for help and make sure it sits about 3 inches (7 cm) from the base of your container. Make a hole in the center a bit smaller than your pot.

Create A Styrofoam Base

Create A Styrofoam Base

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

2. Cut Plastic Piping

2. Cut a length of plastic piping. Make it a little longer than the height of the container, and make another hole in the edge of the polystyrene for this pipe.

Plastic PVC Pipe

Plastic PVC Pipe

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

3. Add Holes to the Small Pot

3. Punch holes in the base of your small pot. Tuck the pot underneath the hole in the polystyrene disk. Water will seep through the pot's holes from below.

Self-Irrigation System Ready for Gardening Project

Self-Irrigation System Ready for Gardening Project

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

4. Position the Pipe, Then Add Soil

Place the pot and polystyrene disk inside the container. Insert the pipe and fill the container (including the pot) with soil ready to sow some seeds.

Match Soil with Seeds for Sowing

Match Soil with Seeds for Sowing

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

5. Add Water

Pour water down the pipe. Make sure to also pour some into the reservoir underneath the polystyrene. It will seep up through the pot into the soil above and to the roots of your plants. Put the container under cover if heavy rains are forecast. If you don't, it will become waterlogged.

Self Irrigation System

Self Irrigation System

jug of water being pured into tube

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Plant a Kitchen Herb Garden

Have some extra space in your yard or garden? Plant a fresh and simple herb garden only steps away from the kitchen.

How to Make a Cat Condo

Use everyday items to build a fancy cat post with baskets.

How to Grow a Watercress Container Garden

Garnish your food with tasty, shiny watercress leaves — or make a yummy salad with watercress as the main attraction.

How to Pet-Proof Your Garden

Learn how to keep the peace between your garden and pets with these 9 simple tips.

Wildflower Gardening

Love wildflowers? Create a meadow using these tips as a guide.

How to Plant a Cactus Container Garden

Yee-haw! Turn a container into a desert landscape by filling it with prickly cacti and other succulent plants. 

How to Kill Weeds (Without Hurting Your Garden)

There are several good reasons to keep your garden clear of weeds. They not only compete with flowers for light, nutrients and water but some also harbor diseases, which may spread to surrounding plants.

How to Make a Trellis Planter

Take your plants vertical with a trellis planter. Use this planter as a focal point or as a privacy screen.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.