How to build a better planter

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How to build a Better Planter

This planter needs only be watered about once a month or less once the plants become established!

You love plants but just can’t seem to keep them alive….
Or you get busy and forget to water them….

Well if you think you have a black thumb and just can’t grow a think I have the planter for you!

Things You’ll Need:

  • 4 gallon or larger container to hold plants
  • 1-2 4 inch plant pots
  • heavy screening. Plastic, hardware cloth or heavier wire depending on size of your container.
  • felt
  • Rubber band
  • 1 inch diameter piece of PVC pipe or other pipe that is as long as your planter is tall.
  • Potting mix
  • plants

Determine what you want to use as your planter. You can use a trash can, a 5 gallon bucket or just about anything that can hold a little water.

In this case I used a small diaper pail that holds about 3 gallons.

Cut your screening so that it will fit inside your planter.

Then set the screening aside.

Place your pot or pots right side up inside your planter resting on the floor.

For this case I used 1 pot but if you are using a larger square or rectangular container you may want 2 or more placed so that they can hold your screen and withstand the weight of the potting soil and plants.

place your screening over the pots and double check size.
Cut down if necessary.

Now double check to make sure the screen you chose is strong enough to hold up the weight of the soil you will fill the planter with.

If there is any doubt that your screen is strong enough to hold your plants and dirt… double or even triple layers of screen may be necessary. This is a rough description, you will have to use your own judgement here if your screen is strong enough, if in doubt…. Double it!

Cut a small hole in the screen over where the pot or pots will be. This is to allow your felt to dangle through so that it will sit on the bottom of the pot to act as a wick.

Cut another hole in one corner to fit your PVC pipe through.

Cut enough 3 inch thick strips of felt to have one dangle into each pot

Roll them so that they will fit through the holes you made into your screen and secure with a rubber band on one end.

Cut 2 pieces of your felt so that it can fit over the screen.

Then cut a slit or slits into one of the felt pads, to match those you cut in your screen.

Place the felt on the screen, then fit your felt rolls into the felt pad with the roll end so that it will sit inside your pot.

Place your screen with felt back onto the pots with the felt rolls inside them.

Fold the free end of your felt rolls over to sit on top of your felt pad.

Cut a corner out of the other felt pad to match where you will place your PVC pipe.

Lay this piece of felt on top of the other piece making sure that you match up the corners where your PVC pipe will be.

Cut one end of your PVC pipe at an angle so that it can uptake water.

Then measure the depth of your container and cut the other end so that it reaches bottom to top.

Place this PVC pipe into your bucket, angle end down, through the hole in your felt and screen to the bottom of the bucket.

Fill bucket to where it just covers the layer of felt.
Place a stick or wooden dowel down through your piece of PVC pipe to the bottom of the bucket and withdraw it.

Mark the place where the water was it’s highest on the dowel by using your scissors and heavily scoring the dowel like you were trying to cut through it.
Do not score too deeply or you could cut your dowel in two.

This will be your high water mark. This will tell you when you have added enough water to your bucket. You will not want to fill water higher than this mark.

This can not become your indicator as to the water level in your bucket.

You will NOT leave this in your bucket as it can become saturated with water and swell to the point that it will be difficult to remove.

When you check the water level you will put it all the way into your bucket then withdraw it like a dipstick to read how much water is remaining in your bucket.

When the dipstick is dry it is time to fill your bucket again.

pour off the water you filled your bucket with, it will only make it too heavy to move to it’s final destination.

Place your planter where you will want it to remain.
I suggest placing it on one of those plant coasters so that you can move it around easily afterwards.

Fill your container with soil, using care not to drop any down your pipe.

Water the soil thoroughly and add plants.

Check your water level to make sure you have filled it to your high water mark. Try not to overfill your planter soaked soil can quickly become anaerobic and sour.

Tips & Warnings

  • If in doubt your screen is not heavy enough double or even triple it for added strength. You can use twist ties to secure the layers together to make them even stronger.
  • Your plants will need time to develop strong roots that grow deeply into your planter. During this time you may need to sprinkle a little water on the soil to keep the surface roots damp from time to time.
  • Once your plants are well established in their new home you can then only water when your stick becomes dry or nearly dry.
  • Remember to store your dipstick where you will remember it. If you use a wooden stick do not leave it in the PVC pipe. Plastic or aluminum rods may be left in the PVC pipe as they will not saturate with water.
  • If you use a dark container you do not want to place this in full sun. Dark containers heat up rapidly and this results in very warm to hot soil that can damage tender roots. Not to mention what hot water does!

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