neat trick: iowa watering hole

bucket holebucket

If you’re planting shrubs or trees this fall, there’s no need to invest in soaker hoses to get the plants established before winter. Simply drill a hole in the bottom of a bucket. My Dad learned this trick from his Mom’s side of the family — resourceful people who traveled from the East Coast to Iowa by wagon — and although I would guess that they used wood or metal buckets, the overall effect is the same. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about the kinks, split seams or mulch coverage issues that soaker hoses present.

What you’ll need:
Drill with ¼” bit
One 5-gallon plastic bucket
Second bucket (if you want to work on your upper body!)

What to do:
Drill a hole on the bottom of the bucket, one or two inches in from the edge. Place the bucket as close to the trunk of the shrub as you can, without harming the plant. Make sure the hole is close to the trunk, then fill with water. You can either drag the hose over to your drip bucket or fill a second bucket and pour into the first. Then simply sit back and enjoy the simplicity of this DIY watering system! — Sarah L.

From our partners

how long does it take the bucket to empty? Because it seems like it’d be pretty fast…. which seems to defeat the purpose…


Depends on the size of the hole, size of the bucket and how much water you put into the bucket. This is drip irrigation at its purest/simplest form. It does work, slowly….

Sarah L.

Jay, it depends on your soil, in part, and how flat you are able to get the bucket. Mine usually take 10 to 15 minutes to drain using the 1/4″ hole. I keep four or five buckets so by the time I have made several trips back for water to fill them up, the first one is empty and ready to be rotated to another spot. If you’re worried about it draining too quickly, you can start with a smaller bit.