I live in an apartment with a balcony and I'm having issues figuring out the best way to handle my drainage. I have a neighbor below me and don't want any water dripping down on her patio.

Are there any suggestions that you can make to efficiently water my plants? I have some saucers but I feel like they don't always allow for adequate drainage. Would an earth box or a DIY version of that be a better system? Perhaps raising my plants on something to get them off the ground?

Curious if anyone else has any suggestions.


5 Answers 5


It's not easy - I also have a balcony with 3 others beneath. Frankly, I don't worry about it too much, I just water and let it run, but I am careful to water only in the evening, preferably just before dusk, when its unlikely anyone else will be on their balconies. I'm also careful with the amount - if the pot is very large and bone dry, I'll water with 2 litres, then come back half and hour later and give it more, so that water does not flood straight out of the bottom but actually gets retained in the compost. If its not bone dry, it'll get about 2.5 litres, but that's for a pot 2 feet deep and 12 inches wide containing a couple of climbers.

I do use trays underneath pots, particularly in summer when smaller pots dry out so quickly in hot sunshine, but I don't have anything beneath the very large pots or troughs. The bore with trays is you have to go back and empty them out after 30 minutes, and remember that they will collect water when the weather is cool and wet, and very few plants like standing in water. Standing pots on earth trays isn't a good idea - the roots of any plant in the pots will go through the bottom and root into the earth tray. Equally, standing them on something to raise them off the ground will not prevent water running out.

  • thanks for sharing! I have very fussy neighbors who have said something to me in the past so I'm very cautious now. I do have a few pans that they sit under. I didnt know I shouldn't let water stand in them, so thanks for that tip! May 2, 2014 at 21:01

A "self-watering" container like an Earth Box would probably be a great solution to your problem. There are also self watering containers in smaller sizes. Besides keeping the drainage under control, it would allow your plants to take up only the amount of water they need, when they need it - and allow you to be away from home for a few days without worrying that your plants would die for lack of water while you are gone.

There are many tutorials for creating your own self-watering planters online. This one, in particular, seems like a good homemade version. You can find even more options here.


Use a watering tray with a water level sensor.

  • What about for larger pots? May 2, 2014 at 21:01
  • 2
    how about some more detail to your answer?
    – kevinskio
    May 3, 2014 at 21:19

Try something like the Big Drippa system. I made a video of my balcony setup https://youtu.be/_FgVsac5eMU

  • 1
    Please update your answer to explain how this prevents water from dripping onto downstairs neighbors. Thanks!
    – Niall C.
    Jul 1, 2015 at 18:01

I have way too many plants on my balcony and I solve this in a few ways, one is to put the plants into nursery bags and stack them in boxes, the other larger than normal drip tray and the other is to put the plants away from the edge so I have time to mop up the mess

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