Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Who hasn’t experienced this? You go on a well-deserved holiday and when you get back, all your plants have dried out. It’s even worse when you forget to water your plants. It does happen sometimes, especially on the balcony. In summer, when the sun is at its warmest, your plants will die very quickly if you don’t water them for a day or two.

In our big watering systems test 2022 we want to help you find a suitable watering system. You will get good tips here. We show you the best watering systems for your balcony and give you buying and evaluation criteria. Finally, you will find everything useful in our guide.



  • For the balcony, an irrigation system that does not require a water connection is a great advantage. Water damage and high water bills can be avoided.
  • There are irrigation systems that have a very small ecological footprint. Solar cells can be used for energy.
  • Before going on holiday, watering systems should be tried out to adjust the timer and the amount of water. This can prevent the flower pots from overflowing or the plants from drying out.

The best Irrigation System: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for irrigation systems

Before buying an irrigation system, you should pay attention to our buying and evaluation criteria. In the following, we will show you everything you need to know. After this information, you will be one step closer to your irrigation system and know exactly what your irrigation system needs and must be able to do.

In summary, these are:

In the following we will go into more detail on the individual criteria.

Irrigation system without electricity and water connection

Most people look for an irrigation system to keep their plants healthy and well even when they are on holiday. However, if you need a watering system for your balcony, you don’t want to have to leave the balcony door open and the water on permanently. Something can always break and then the water damage is not far away.

An irrigation system that works without electricity and especially without water is essential for a good conscience on holiday or in the office. Some irrigation systems for the balcony also need a socket, but if this is not available on your balcony, there are several alternatives.

Our favourite is the solar cell because you don’t have to worry about batteries and your ecological footprint is a little smaller. However, batteries are also a good alternative to the power socket. Batteries last a long time and can be used in bad weather.

Pressure build-up

There are several ways to build up pressure in an irrigation system. For some, you need an energy source and for others, a difference in altitude is enough. For a controlled water supply, a small pump is best.

The irrigation system can build up negative pressure through batteries or solar power, which attracts the water and directs it to the individual pots.

A pump can also be used to set specific times when the plants should receive water. It is usually best for the plants to be watered in the morning and evening.

When watering with a height difference, gravity is a crucial factor. For this, a water container must be placed above the plants so that the water can flow downwards.

There are also variants where you put a water bottle with a specific connection, upside down into the potting soil. This variant keeps the potting soil moist.

If a water connection is available, the water pressure is sufficient to distribute the water evenly to all the pots on a balcony.


The timer is essential for watering systems with a pump or those that are directly connected to a water supply. A timer takes care of scheduling the water supply and, of course, the timing of the water supply.

Most irrigation systems already have an integrated timer, but this can also be purchased for a small price and connected in between.

You should make sure that this timer works well and, if necessary, try it out before you start using it so that you don’t get a surprise water bill. However, it is usually the case that only a little water flows through the narrow hoses of the irrigation systems.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an irrigation system

When it comes to irrigation systems, there are some questions that you should not only know before buying, but also for the start-up and also for the plants.


Irrigation systems are a great help because you can always have green plants with a few simple steps. (Image source: Methi SOMÇAĞ / unsplash)

In the following, we will answer all the important questions that you may have or that you should know.

How does a flower box with a water reservoir work?

The function is quite simple. The flower boxes have a double bottom in which the water is stored. The plants get all the nutrients through the soil, but also the water that settles on the bottom. The water is absorbed by the roots of the plants.

However, these flower boxes always contain only a limited supply of water. The deeper the double bottom, the more water can be stored in the flower pot. The water supply can be filled through a hose.

What types of irrigation stems are there?

There are two main types of irrigation systems. There is the above-ground and the underground irrigation. We will explain the two types in the following table.

Type Description
Above-ground irrigation In above-ground irrigation, the hoses are laid above ground. For a balcony with only potted plants, this is the only possible method.
Underground irrigation For a vegetable bed or lawn, underground irrigation is optimal. This irrigation is hidden and waters the soil and roots from below.

For your balcony, above-ground watering is perfectly adequate, as you would have to create a complete bed for underground watering.

Do I need a water indicator for my flower box?

If YOU have an irrigation system for your plants, then you do not need a water gauge. The water is precisely portioned by the pump but especially by the timer. As long as the soil is moist, your plants are well served. However, a water gauge is very useful in a double-bottomed system.

With watering cones and similar variants, the water indicator is already present. You can see how full the containers are, so you can easily estimate when you need to refill with new water. You should also make sure that water reservoirs always contain water.

How can I water my balcony plants during the holiday?

It is best to water your plants daily, but this is not possible when you are on holiday. To prevent your plants from drying out, you need to find an alternative to daily watering.

There are many different options when it comes to watering systems. They can be inexpensive or easy to use.

You should consider how many plants you have to care for and how long you will be on holiday. For a longer period and several plants, you should get an irrigation system that works on a timer.

In addition, a pump should be available to guarantee an even and reliable water supply.

However, if you only have herbs on your balcony and you are not on holiday for too long, watering cones that you connect to a water bottle and insert into the soil are usually sufficient. Flower boxes with a double bottom are also very useful for a short holiday.

Watering system with water connection

Be careful with watering systems for the balcony that require a water connection. Only use devices that have several good reviews and come from an established brand.

If your water connection is in the flat and you lead the water to the balcony via a hose, the risk of water damage is very high due to the constant pressure of tap water.


You should only leave an irrigation system with a water connection unattended when it is outside on the balcony. (Image source: Harry Grout / unsplash)

If you have a water connection on the balcony, you may be faced with surprisingly high water bills if the irrigation system is used continuously.

An irrigation system with a water connection is only worthwhile if you have an enormous number of plants on the balcony and in your flat.

In this case, the pressure of the tap water is very useful for transporting the water several metres through the flat and over the balcony. In addition, the pressure can also reach ceiling plants without any problems.

  • High pressure
  • More plants can be supplied
  • Endless supply of water
  • High risk of water damage
  • No water connections on balconies
  • Can lead to a high water bill

More plants can be supplied, but the risk of water damage is higher.

Irrigation system without water connection

Yes, an irrigation system does not need a water connection. There are several options to get the water to where it is needed without risking water damage. Water can easily be brought to the desired plants via hoses by means of pumps or differences in height.

The best option is large buckets filled with water. Here, however, many different things can be used as water reservoirs. A large flower pot does not stand out among the other plants and can store water wonderfully.

You can actually use anything that can store water without any problems. If you no longer have a pot, you can also use PET bottles or glass bottles as a water reservoir.

The irrigation system can then make use of one or more water reservoirs. The pump draws the water through a thin hose and directs it to the plants.

The hose must be relatively thin so that the pump has to use less power to transport the water. Therefore, you should plan more time for a timer. The pump can also be operated with batteries or solar cells if you do not have a power socket on your balcony.

  • Control over water quantity
  • no long hoses lying around
  • water reservoir can be filled with rainwater
  • Not enough pressure for ceiling plants
  • water reservoir needs to be refilled

It provides good control over water volumes. However, there is not enough pressure for ceiling plants.

What do I need for a DIY irrigation system for the balcony?

There are several constructions you can build yourself. The simplest but most unreliable is to poke a few holes in the top of a PET bottle and stick it filled with water upside down into the ground. But there are also more eloquent solutions that will keep your plants alive for a longer period of time.

A regular water supply is important for the health of the plants.

One of the most elegant watering systems uses gravity. By placing a water reservoir higher than the actual plants and running hoses from the reservoir to the plants, the water flows down to the plants by gravity.

With this irrigation system, the water only needs to be sucked in at the beginning until it runs down to the plants on its own.


Watering systems are a great help when you don’t have the time to water your plants every day. On holiday, watering systems ensure the preservation of your plants. We have presented the best models and shown you what is important before and when buying an irrigation system.

After you have read the answers to the frequently asked questions, you are more than ready to buy your irrigation system and to use it properly. We wish you a lot of fun on your next holiday and hope that your plants on the balcony stay healthy and lively.

Picture source: nd3000 / 123rf