How to set up a self-watering system

Do it:

Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Takes just:

30 minutes

At its best:

Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Returning home to discover dead or wilting plants is not the ideal end to a holiday. With a little forethought you can ensure your plants are kept well-watered while you're away, without being overly reliant on obliging friends or neighbours.

Follow our simple guide to setting up a self-watering system, below.

You will need

A flat tray

A container of water

Capillary matting



Set up a flat tray over a container of water and cover in capillary matting. Add a piece of matting, which will function as a wick, drawing up water from the reservoir below.

Fill the water reservoir right up to its brim and thoroughly wet the matting.

Put pots on the surface, pressing them down so the pot's draining holes are in contact with the matting. Ideally, ask a friend or neighbour to top up the reservoir from time to time.


Discover more ideas and inspiration

Related content

How to save water in your garden

How to make a slate planter

How to water your plants

Related offers


Subscriber only content

Save £4 on amaryllis

Buy one ready-grown festive red amaryllis for £9.99, or save £4 when you buy two for just £15.98. You'll also get free p&p with this offer.

Unlock now

SAVE 10%

Subscriber only content

Save 10% at Cuckooland

Find a great range of inspiring Christmas ideas that gardeners will love at Cuckooland. You'll save 10% on their entire range, including gifts, garden furniture, tools, lighting and more.

Unlock now


Subscriber only content

Half-price nerines

Nerines provide vibrant colour throughout late summer and autumn. Buy five bulbs of one variety for £9.99, or save half price when you buy the collection for just £19.98.

Unlock now