Galvanized Self-Watering Planter from Gardener’s Supply: Product Review
This is one of my favorite self-watering planters. Not only does it look great, it also works very well.
Available on Amazon
The Galvanized Self-Watering Planters from Gardener’s Supply Company have corrugated, galvanized steel sides; aluminum trim with a faux wood finish; and an unusual, patented, self-watering system to keep plants moist but not over-watered. There are five sizes/styles, all of which use the same system.
For this review, I tested the tall planter and the elevated raised bed planter.
The planter arrives in pieces (lots of pieces) neatly packed into a cardboard box with plenty of padding to prevent damage during shipping. There’s also a page with assembly instructions, although it’s not entirely accurate (more on that below).
The smaller planters aren’t too heavy (less than 20 lbs) but the elevated raised bed weighs about 56 lbs and comes in a large, flat box. You’ll probably want some help to move it to where you want to unpack and assemble it.
To put everything together, you’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver (or drill with a Phillips driver bit) and a rubber mallet or hammer.
Before beginning assembly, lay out all the pieces and check them against the instructions and parts list. I found extra parts and/or parts that weren’t mentioned in the instructions, making it a little confusing to assemble the planter.
For example, for the tall planter there was no mention of the two Phillips head screws or the felt pads in the Parts List, and no assembly instructions on how to use the screws to attach the water reservoir top to the water reservoir bottom or how to attach the felt pads to the bottom of the planter legs.
Assembling the Planter
Assembly was relatively easy and the instructions (other than missing a few key pieces of information) were generally straightforward and direct. However, it does take a while and you may want to have a second pair of hands to help you, particularly for the elevated trough planter.
To make it easier, we put together a video showing exactly how to assemble the trough planter.
- Short planter is 18-3/4″ square x 12-3/4″ H overall; bottom is 16″ square; 8-1/2″ planting depth; holds 30 quarts of potting mix; reservoir holds 8 quarts of water
- Tall planter is 19-5/8″ square x 22-7/8″ H overall; bottom is 13-5/8″ square; 11-1/2″ planting depth; holds 50 quarts of potting mix; reservoir holds 8 quarts of water
- Short trough planter is 29″ L x 16″ W x 13″ H; planting depth is 8-1/2″; holds 50 quarts of potting mix; water reservoir holds 2 gallons
- Tall trough planter is 30″ L x 17″ W x 23″ H; planting depth is 11-1/2″; holds 80 quarts of potting mix; water reservoir holds 2 gallons of water
- Elevated raised bed is 45″ L x 23-1/2″ x W 32-1/2″ H overall; planting area is 40-1/2″ L x 20-1/4″ W x 9-1/2″ deep; hold 149 quarts of potting mix; water reservoir holds 4 gallons
I had initially assumed that the planter would be nearly as deep as it is tall. It isn’t. For example, while the tall planter is almost 20” tall, the planting area is just over 11” deep. Don’t expect to plant a 5-gallon container or something with a large root ball.
On the plus side, that means you don’t need as much potting mix to fill it and it’s lighter, making it easier to move.
High-Quality Materials But Not The Best Fit
The components of the planter are made of quality materials that are built to last. And, assuming you’ve assembled it correctly, it’s a sturdy and stable planter that’s unlikely to tip over.
Even in the harsh Tucson sun, all components have held up well over the year since I first started using the tall planter. Even the wood grain finish still looks like new.
One thing I didn’t like when I assembled the tall planter was that the water reservoir didn’t fit tightly into the planter. As a result, soil fell through spaces between the water reservoir and the sides of the side panels, and if you water it from above (which you shouldn’t need to do often) the water runs out the sides.
When I assembled the elevated raised bed, the kit came with a length of wide electrical tape wrapped around a piece of cardboard, along with a separate instruction sheet showing how to place the tape along all of the seams between the reservoir and planter sides. Really? It seemed like an afterthought and a pretty tacky “solution” to the problem.
Easy to Move
All of the planters can be purchased with or without casters (two regular casters, two locking). I tried them on the elevated raised bed and found that they worked very well, making it easy to roll the planter around as needed.
The locking casters are a nice touch, preventing the planter from rolling around in windy conditions or if it’s placed on a slight incline. I wouldn’t put it on a steep slope though, not only because it might fall over but also because the water in the reservoir won’t be level, making the indicator inaccurate.
Is It Really “Self-Watering”?
“Self-watering” is a somewhat misleading term – obviously you still need to provide water one way or another! “Sub-irrigated” is a more accurate description (i.e., the planter is irrigated from below).
Water is fed into the reservoir under the planting medium through a fill-tube in the corner of the planter. The indicator shows the (approximate) water level so you know when it’s time to add more.
From there, the water is wicked up through the capillary tubes into the planting medium, keeping it consistently moist.
At first, I was a little skeptical about how well the capillary tubes would work. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that they do an excellent job of moving water from the reservoir into the planting medium. They also hold together well – after over a year of use, the capillary tubes in the tall planter are still intact and wicking perfectly.
One trick I use is to place a 2-gallon emitter from my drip irrigation system directly into the fill tube. Every time the irrigation system comes on, the reservoir is partially filled, meaning that I have to manually top it up only once a week.
Note: Drain the reservoir at the end of the growing season if you live in an area where it freezes in winter. There’s a drain plug in the bottom of the reservoir that you can remove to empty out any remaining water. If the planter will stay outside over the winter, leave the plug out until temperatures warm up in spring.
How Well Does It Work?
Overall, the tall galvanized self-watering planter from Gardener’s Supply Company works extremely well. The sweet potato vine and dwarf pomegranate (courtesy of Nature Hills Nursery) in the tall planter have grown quickly and stayed healthy with minimal effort.
The elevated raised bed planter has been a little more finicky; it dried out more quickly (which wasn’t totally unexpected for a relatively shallow planter in our 100F+ temperatures) and the fill indicator on one side always showed “full” (i.e., it didn’t work correctly). In the end, I just kept filling it until water ran out the sides.
These galvanized self-watering planters are one of my favorite planters. Not only do they look great, they also work very well. The capillary tubes do a fantastic job of wicking water from the reservoir up to the plant roots. The galvanized steel sides and faux wood aluminum trim withstand even Tucson’s summer blast furnace. And the optional casters make the planters easy to move around.
If you live in an extremely dry, hot area, I’d recommend choosing the tall planter or tall trough planter – they hold more potting mix and have a deeper planting area so the planter won’t dry out as quickly. Still, if you’re conscientious about filling the reservoirs daily in hot weather, even the smaller planters will do very well.
Where to Buy
All five models of the galvanized self-watering planters (with or without casters) are exclusive to Gardener’s Supply Company and can be purchased directly from their website, although some models can be found on Amazon. Prices range from $59.99 to $259.89.
To buy directly from Gardener’s Supply, click here or on the image below: Galvanized Elevated Raised Bed, 23″ x 45″
Last update on 2019-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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