Homemade Ollas to Irrigate the Garden

Homemade Ollas to Irrigate the Garden

The world is full of creative ideas and this ancient method of watering plants is a very cool one.  An olla is a clay pot that is buried in the soil near plants.  The non-glazed clay pot has a watering hole in the top that allows the gardener to fill it with water when needed.  When the soil is dry around the pot it pulls moisture through the clay through osmosis into the soil.  It gradually pulls the water to where it is needed.  The theme for Lowe’s Creative Ideas this month is irrigating the garden so I thought I would try to put together my own DIY ollas to help with watering the vegetable garden.

Here’s what you need:

  • Un-glazed clay pots – I used 6 inch pots and 4 inch pots.
  • Clay saucers for the pots.
  • Silicon Caulk
  • A caulk gun

Make sure that the clay saucers line up well with the top of the pot.  The six inch pots were great but the 4 inch ones were more difficult to line up correctly.

Put a bead of caulk all the way around the saucer.

Then carefully line up with pot to fit snugly with the saucer.  Gently push down.  You want a good amount of caulk to hold the two objects together.  If you push down too much you will squeeze out the caulk and leave nothing to bind the pot and saucer together.

Smooth out the caulk to make sure there are no gaps.  I used my finger which I dont’ advise.  A damp sponge or towel would be a better choice.

After curing for about 24 hours I brought my DIY ollas outdoors to test.  I filled them with water and found no leaks.

Next I buried the pot into the soil so that the filling hole was left slightly above ground.  It can be covered with a rock or another pot to keep moisture from evaporating too quickly.

The olla isn’t the only method I’m using to water my plants this year.  Soaker hoses are an awesome way to water the garden.  I added several soaker hoses to water some of our 40+ tomato plants!  Make sure if you use soaker hoses that you also add mulch over them to help reduce evaporation.

How do you irrigate your garden?


Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Love the pot idea. I use soaker hoses a lot. I also have aqua cones. I bought my spikes which a two litter bottle opening will fit into. You cut the bottom of the bottle and it is upside down into the spike which is into the ground and it waters the roots when you fill it with water. I found it's good to put pantyhose over the bottle to keep out leaves.

  2. How widely should these be spaced in a 3' square raised bed?

    1. dkistner,

      I've only just started using them so I can't judge based on performance. I would estimate maybe 2 for the 3' square bed. I think placing them about halfway on two sides would do the trick.

  3. Well, isn't that clever! Well done, Dave! Stay tuned for our irrigation project!

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