Irrigating with Plastic Bottles

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When standing with the hose in hand watering the garden this growing season here’s something to contemplate:

The point of watering is feeding roots but in most cases excess water is wasted falling between and around plants. A watering can is better suited for the task but still lacks precision.

One way to ensure water reaches its target is through a delivery mechanism that takes into consideration low water usage. True, in the realm of eco-friendly gardening there are many types of specialized irrigations systems that direct water but most aren’t feasible devices for the general homeowner.

However, one that could be made at home with little cost involves reusing plastic bottles from water, soda, and other drinks. Any size will work but the 1.5 liter or 1 liter is the easiest to experiment with. All that’s needed besides the bottles are two to three foot thin but sturdy sticks that can fit through the spouts.

Now, there are different ways of setting up the watering system but the basic idea remains the same and can be adapted to fit any situation. 

For example, a simple approach may go something like this:

Simple Method

1. Cut off the bottom of the bottle about an inch up.

2. Making sure not to disturb the plant itself place and the bottle near the base of the plant with the spout down almost completely vertical. Then push the stick through the bottle into the ground so it’s holding the bottle upward. If it leans a bit that’s ok.

3. Pour water into the top (the cut off bottom) and see if it reaches the base of the plant. Adjust if necessary.

Advanced Method

1. From the spout use a marker to draw two lines 5 or 6 inches down each side (at a 180 degree angle) essentially dividing the bottle if you continued all the way around.


2. Connect the ends of the lines by circling around the bottle’s width creating two halves.


3. Carefully cut out one of the halves and remove the spout so you end up with a scoop-like shape.


4. If necessary spend some time trimming it so it has a pointy or shovel-like tip capable of sliding into the ground and resting in place.

5. Cut off the end (the bottom) of the bottle about an inch up.

6. Place the scoop side in the ground.

7. Test with some water and adjust the placement if necessary.

Either way you choose regulate water usage to less than a cup for each plant when possible and in the end this contraption will save on next month’s water bill.

Finally remember the bottles along with any scraps should be recycled when no longer in use or at the end of the season.  They’ll probably be worn from the elements so don’t hesitate to toss them out and use new ones the following year.

Jakob Barry writes for, a growing community of homeowners and contractors sharing and monitoring home improvement projects together. He covers various home improvement topics including lawn irrigations tips and grounds maintenance

3 Responses to “Irrigating with Plastic Bottles”

  1. Jill Says:

    I just decided to use plastic bike water bottles for this. I tried using a laundry detergent jug but it was too hard to make drip properly, then I realized that if I just open the tops on the bike bottles a little, they would drip all on their own. Plus, I already have a few and they’re easy to pick up free at street fairs or cheap at Goodwill.

  2. Rob Says:

    Good lord we are starting to think alike. I do something simular, but I leave the tops on with a hole drilled through it so the water eases out.

  3. Jakob Barry Says:

    Wow, those are great ideas which makes me think I could also leave the cap on the plastic bottle but loosen it enough so the water drips out.

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