Keeping garden plants properly irrigated is essential to their growth, and clay pot irrigation, otherwise known as ollas, are one of the cheapest and easiest options. Forget about using drip hoses. They are ugly when they have to be placed across the lawn from the spigot to the garden, especially if they are not wound back up after each use. Winding up hoses is a lot of work. Use clay pot irrigation in the garden, and make your own ollas that will provide just the right amount of moisture.
Some people suggest gluing two pots together to make each irrigation container, but taking that extra step is not necessary. Leaks can form, and the system can fail. All that is necessary for each grouping of plants is one clay pot that is between 8 ½ and 12 inches in diameter. The smaller the pots, the more often they will need to be refilled. You will also need the matching clay saucer to cover the top, a rock to hold it in place and a trowel and/or shovel.
Begin by planning the layout of the garden. The plants will encircle the pots, and they should be spaced according to individual recommendations and specifications. Work the soil well, and dig holes that will accommodate the depth and diameter of the clay containers. Use the photo as a guide, and sink the first one into the ground. The rim should be level with the surface of the soil. Cover the pot with a clay lid, and top it with a baseball-sized rock to firmly keep in place. Space the plants around it, and continue assembling with each one until the irrigation system is complete and the garden is filled with plants. They are ready to fill with water.
Using Your Clay Pot Irrigation System
Check the irrigation system each day by simply removing the lids. When the clay pots are empty, add more water. Keep the lids in place to prevent evaporation and contamination. If the bottoms of the planters are placed firmly against the soil, the water will not immediately run out. It will seep out little by little, and it will be down near the roots where it is needed the most. They are ideal in very dry and/or windy locations where moisture evaporates before it has a chance to reach the roots of garden plants.