Self-watering bucket planters



  • Buckets
  • Hand clippers
  • Drain field pipe
  • Large gravel (optional)
  • 1” PVC
  • Drill


  1. Cut the drain pipe to fit into the bottom of the bucket. Place into bucket and gravel (optional) around the pipe.
  2. Cut a notch in the pipe, then place the 1” PVC into the notch to fill the bucket. Cut the PVC to the desired height past the top of the bucket.
  3. Drill holes in the bucket just at the top of the drain field pipe to prevent overflow.
  4. Fill the bucket with soil and plant.


  • Drain field pipe has small perforations to allow water to seep out. It is available at most hardware stores.
  • The bucket material and shape isn’t too important.
  • Remember to keep the soil aerated and fertilized long term if it’s used beyond annuals.
  • Mulch keeps evaporation and algae growth on the top of the soil down. Arborist wood chips are cheap and work well.
  • Paint on the buckets is optional, but important for plastic if you want it to last beyond a season or two. It prevents the buckets from becoming brittle in the sunlight.

bucket-started barrel planter, assembled

bucket-start plastic bucket planter, assembled

bucket-finished plastic bucket planters, keeping various mints from spreading uncontrolled

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.