Craft this DIY self-watering garden hose pot.
By Susan Guagliumi
Enhance your outdoor space with handmade décor and functionality. In Handmade for the Garden (STC Craft, 2014), author Susan Guagliumi shares a treasure trove of original projects that she has been perfecting over the last ten years. Most of her projects rely on easy-to-find and repurposed materials, like the following excerpt for an up-cycled self-watering garden hose pot.
Buy this book in the Mother Earth Living store: Handmade for the Garden.
• 75' (23m) of soaker hose for an average planter (16"–20" [41–51cm] in diameter and 6"–10" [15–25cm] high)*
• 350–375 8"-long (20cm) plastic zip ties per 75' (23m) of hose
• Flush cutter
• Awl or putty knife
• 4 large spring clamps (optional)
*Note: As a rule of thumb, the wider the base of the planter, the less hose you will have to use for the height of the sides. When the base measures about 10" (25cm) across, for example, one 75' (23m) hose will produce a planter that is about 10" (25cm) high and 16" (41cm) across the top. If the base is 15" (38cm) across, the planter will probably end up being about 6" (15cm) high and 20" (51cm) across the top. Decide before you begin whether you want a tall, narrow planter or a wide, shallow one.
1. Secure end of hose
Fold the beginning end of the hose back on itself for about 4" (10cm), and secure it with a zip tie. Making sure the flat side of the tie’s locking end is against the surface of the hose, insert the straight end through the lock, and then pull it up tightly with a pair of pliers. (You can tighten the ties manually, but after a while the plastic is pretty rough on hands, and you’ll need to secure many more ties to complete a planter.)
Secure the folded starting end of the hose with a zip tie, and clip close to the tie's lock.
2. Clip zip tie's excess length
Use the flush cutter to clip off the zip tie’s excess length close to the lock. (As you build the planter and secure the hose rounds with zip ties, try to nudge all the trimmed ties’ locking ends against the grooves between the hose rounds. Once you get moving, do not clip each tie individually. Instead, go back and retighten and then trim 10 or 20 ties at once. But, for the first few rounds, you’ll find it easier to see what you are doing if you tighten and clip each zip tie as you work.)
3. Wrap and secure beginning hose end
Wrap the hose around the first folded section, and secure it with a second zip tie. Insert this (and all following ties) through the previous row so that each tie encloses two pieces of hose.
Each zip tie secures a new row of hose to the previous row.
4. Wrap and build base
Continue wrapping more hose around the completed section, adding more zip ties as you work. If you need to add another length of hose, there are two ways to do this: If the hose ends are intact, just screw on another length, and keep working. If the hose ends are not intact, use a sharp scissor or blade to taper the ends of the old and new hoses at an angle, and then insert one into the other.
Once the base has started taking shape, it will require more and more ties to make it stable and strong. You will be able to sense where the next tie is needed to prevent gaps, but it is always safer to have too many, rather than too few ties, so don’t skimp.
As the base enlarges, you'll need to add progressively more ties to secure each round.
5. Retighten and trim zip ties before beginning planter’s sides
When the base is as large as you want, you are ready to begin working vertically to build the planter’s sides. This is a good time to retighten and trim all the base sip ties, and turn their locking bumps into the grooves between the coils. The clipped ends of these plastic ties can be sharp, so you can minimize scraped fingers if they all face the same direction as you work.
A putty knife will help you insert the ties between tightly bound rounds.
6. Build planter’s sides
The sides are worked exactly like the base, except that you’ll position each coil on top of the previous coil rather than alongside it. If you use large spring clamps to position the hose in the next section, you won’t have to fight the weight of the hose as you work.
Up to now, the placement of the ties has only been important from a structural perspective, but there should be some sort of pattern or regularity to their placement as you build the sides of the container. Use the last round of the base and the first round of the sides to evaluate the spacing of the zip ties so that you can work them in a diagonal, zigzag, or vertical pattern up the sides. This is no more difficult to do than randomly placing the zip ties but will require a little planning and careful spacing in the first few side rounds. You may have to skip a larger or smaller space before placing the next tie or double up the ties a little in order to establish the beginning of a pattern. You can also measure the spacing and make a series of chalk marks to guide you.
You should find that it requires some effort to insert the zip ties between the previous rounds; otherwise you are not tightening them enough. Initially use a flat putty knife to open up the spaces to insert the ties, but once you get working, you can insert the ties for the next round before tightening each working tie. The tie’s locking end will hold it between the tightened coils until you work your way around to it on the next round. Doing this is faster and much easier on your hands than trying to insert the new ties between tightened coils.
When placing ties to secure the sides of the planter, the pattern needs to be established in the first round.
7. Taper end of coil
Taper the last coil (as suggested in Step 4) to end the planter, and place a couple of extra zip ties close together to secure the ending. For a self-watering planter, do not taper the end of the hose. Just end with the hose connection anchored securely at the top, facing out. You’ll find it helpful to use a quick-connect fitting at the end, so you can just snap the garden hose into the top of the basket and turn on the water.
8. Finish up
Before planting in a very large garden hose pot, place some lightweight fillers in the bottom so you don’t need to use as much soil and to promote good drainage. For this purpose, I have used wadded-up, old window screening and large plastic pots (upside down). Avoid heavy fillers like pebbles or pot shards.
Copyright © Handmade for the Garden by Susan Guagliumi, published by STC Craft | Melanie Falick Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, 2014. Buy this book from our store: Handmade for the Garden.