GeneralHow toIrrigationWater

How to make your garden drought proof, using unglazed clay pots.

Too often plants are left to dry up and suffer, eventually dying. An unglazed clay pot can work as a great, simple irrigation system. It can be buried with its opening at soil level. Covered with a lid, the water will be protected from the sun, and it will slowly seep into the soil. At the same time, if the soil is already wet, osmosis back pressure will prevent it from seeping through and thus overwatering the area; instead reserving the water for when it is needed. This method minimizes the water use, even in the driest area. This can water one square meter of garden or one fruit tree.

Key Takeaways

– Buried clay pots make great decentralized irrigation systems.

-The pots allow water to seep into dry soil, but they will reserve water when the soil is already wet.

-Topped up every 24 hours, one pot can water a square meter of garden or one fruit tree.


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Geoff Lawton

Geoff Lawton is a world renowned Permaculture consultant, designer and teacher. He first took his Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course in 1983 with Bill Mollison the founder of Permaculture. Geoff has undertaken thousands of jobs teaching, consulting, designing, administering and implementing, in 6 continents and close to 50 countries around the world. Clients have included private individuals, groups, communities, governments, aid organizations, non-government organisations and multinational companies under the not-for-profit organisation. In 1996 Geoff was accredited with the Permaculture Community Services Award by the Permaculture movement for services in Australia and around the world. Geoff's official website is Geoff's Facebook profile can be found here.


  1. What size are the pots? Pretty important to know! I’m sure different sized pots water different sized areas.

  2. I live in a fairly wet climate (North Florida 30deg Lat) with 60inches/150cm per year of rain but our sandy soil doesn’t hold water for long in our brutal summers and I have to water every morning in case it doesn’t rain; but if it does rain (2in/5cm thunder showers are common) the soil can end up waterlogged. This may be a perfect solution in a place one would not think could benefit. [old scientist will quibble with use of ‘osmosis’, it is capillary pressure in this case]

  3. Anybody have any experience using clay pots in very clay-like and rocky soil? We have a very large project where we are considering the use of clay pots in the desert but not sure how the pots would fare in rocky clay like soil

  4. This is unscientific garbage. How can “one pot” be guaranteed to water 1 square meter when no explanation is given about the size of the pot or the type of soil?

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