Reuse plastic bottles in a watering system

Plastic bottles can be reused to create a simple, yet effective watering system that provides continuous moisture to trees or flowers. This will not only benefit the plants, but will also reduce the amount of water that you use for watering and will also reduce the amount of plastic waste that you are producing.

Used plastic bottles

Used plastic bottles

So, if you happen to have some bigger plastic bottles from mineral or spring water you can use them to water small trees. The smaller 1.5 and 2 liter bottles can be better utilized for plants. For our example we will use the 8 liter spring water bottles shown on the picture. Depending on the weather and the soil, they can provide continuous watering for up to a week.

Plastic bottle without the ring and the handle

Plastic bottle without the ring and the handle

The first thing you need to do is to remove the plastic ring that used to hold the cap in place before the bottle is opened, and then to remove the plastic handle – if any. While these do not hurt if they stay, it will be easier to handle the bottle without them staying in the way. You can use a razor knife to remove those, just watch out not to cut the bottle itself or your fingers. Once complete, the bottle should look like the picture on the left.

Punctured bottle cap

Punctured bottle cap

Once complete, remove the cap get a small nail – 2 or 3 mm thick – and punch a couple of holes in the cap by using a hammer. There is no real rule for the number or size of the holes you need to punch in the cap, as they will provide greatly varying results depending on the soil, the temperature and for how long do you wish the water in the bottle to last. Your best bet will be to n a couple of small holes and then punch more, if needed. There is a picture of the punctured cap on the right.

Bottom filling hole

Bottom filling hole

The next step will be to cut triangular hole in the bottom of the bottle, which will be used to fill in the bottle with water. The bottom of the bottle is usually already separated in small triangles, just use the outline to cut the hole, but be careful not to cut the whole piece. You want ot leave it attached to the bottle in order to prevent water vaporising and insects from getting into the bottle. The hole needs to look like the picture on the left.

Making a hole for the bottle

Making a hole for the bottle

When done, you need to dig a hole next to the plant which you intend to water. You need to make the hole close enough to the plant, so that it’s root tap into the moisture, however you need to be carefull not to damage any of them. In our example, the distance between the tree and the place where the cap of the bottle will be is around 30 cm. The depth should be around 20 cm and the hole should be on the higher side of the land, so that water can make it’s way to the tree, not away from it.

The installed bottle

The installed bottle

Once the hole is ready, put the bottle inside (remember to have the cap on and fastened) and use the excavated soil to secure the bottle in place. Once installed, you can fill in the bottle with water and wet the soul around the bottle. This will ensure that the soil will get a good grip of the bottle and it will not get loose and also the added weight of the water in the bottle will keep it in place.

Watering system from plastic bottle

Watering system from plastic bottle

If you got it right from the first time, there should be enough water in the bottle for 2 or 3 days. If the holes get blocked with soil, you can either tie a cotton cloth around the cap or you can put a piece of cotton yarn with a knot on the inside through each hole, which will act as a wick. Again, depending on the type of soil that you have you might need to readjust the bottle or make some more holes in the cap, but once you are done with the tweaking you will have a cheap continuous moisture irrigation system for each of your trees.

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