When it comes to gardening, there are lots of fun and inventive ways to grow your favorite flowers, herbs, and veggies. Whether you’re hoping to save space or money, or you enjoy finding unique planters to make your space stand out, a gutter garden is easy to build in a variety of ways. The design options are endless, but we’ve rounded up some of the best for you to try out.
What’s a Gutter Garden?
Basically, these gardens are usually made using old rain gutters. These are easily upcycled and repurposed into planters in a variety of clever and inventive ways. The name is a misnomer, however: you don’t actually need to use rain gutters specifically to make one of these space-saving gardens.
Some people get creative with gutter garden ideas, using the materials they already have around. Some alternative options often include using PVC pipe or even bamboo rather than a metal eavestrough.
The concept is simple: you just use the gutter as a long planter. These create suitable growing spaces for smaller plants like strawberries, herbs, and lettuces. They can even help you adequately water your garden with less effort. The possibilities for your garden are endless.
Various Types of DIY Gutter Gardens
When gutters are painted and a few holes are drilled into the bottom, you’ve got a homemade planter perfect for your garden. These vertical green wonders can dress up boring wooden fences, walls, windows, or hung up to create privacy screens. They make beautiful additions to your home and yard, and best of all, they allow you to grow food at home.
The following types of DIY gardens are easy to build, practical, and low maintenance. Yet, they’re all creative and stunning ways to take advantage of plants that grow well in a smaller space.
1. Rain Gutter Garden
Use an old rain gutter (with a few holes drilled into the bottom for water drainage) to dress up any wall around your home. Many people install these gardens into sheds, walls of their home, and wooden privacy fences for support. Plus, you can take it down and move the garden should you need.
2. PVC Pipe Hanging Gutter Garden
You don’t need an actual gutter to build a gutter garden, and you don’t need to always attach them to a wall or fence. PVC pipe is a great alternative. Because the material is more lightweight than aluminum, you can string several of them together and hang them vertically to create a living privacy screen.
3. Self-Watering Gutter Garden
Although it’s a practical and extremely low-maintenance way to grow food, a vertical, self-watering gutter garden may take a bit more work and planning. In contrast, a hydroponic rain gutter system means you don’t need to water your garden, saving you time later.
4. Vertical Indoor Gutter Garden
Indoors, gutters work well for growing herbs, lettuce, spinach, and other greens you use when cooking. Vertical gardening saves space while the convenient location means all you need to do is pick what you need when you need it. You’ll never have to go outside to collect foods from the garden again.
5. Deck Gutter Garden
When installed directly onto a deck railing, inexpensive gutters help you take advantage of previously unused space. It’s a smart way to grow, and you don’t need to walk far to reach your harvest. If your deck is located off your kitchen, even better! Plus, keeping your crops closer to your home may protect them from animals like deer.
6. Freestanding Herb Gutter Garden
A freestanding garden works well in urban settings. They allow you to grow the herbs you love to cook with directly in the kitchen or placed on a rooftop, patio, or balcony. If your home doesn’t receive the best sunlight, you can even move them to a sunnier location during the day and store them inside later. Pallets also work well as supports for a freestanding gutter garden.
7. Repurposed Garden Centerpiece
Gutters can also make perfect tabletop centerpieces. Plant gorgeous succulents, herbs, or veggies and decorate your kitchen or patio table with candles to create a stunning space. Some people even go one step further and install the gutter directly into their wooden table, cutting out a rectangle to install it permanently.
8 Greenhouse Gutter Garden
Gutters are a great solution for limited space, and as such are ideal for greenhouses. Do you need to grow more food? Or simply want to use your greenhouse space in a smart, well-thought-out manner? Either way, hanging gutters or stacking them vertically (or both) allows you to grow more, with less.
Who Needs a Gutter Garden?
Gutter gardens work well for growing plants that you’d typically place in a 4-inch pots. They allow you to grow many plants and herbs, and gardeners typically use them to grow annuals with shallow roots, along with herbs, greens, and flowers.
Common plants grown in gutters include the following:
- Salad greens
- Asian greens
- Spinach or Mustard
- Snap peas
- Bunching onions
- Annual flowers
Gardens made using gutters are also ideal for people who have a limited amount of space. Home gardens can take up a lot of room, but gutters allow even renters to plant without worrying about leaving their garden behind when they move or paying extra costs.
The Benefits of Gutter Gardens
Gutters make gardens that are a work of art. They’re fun and interesting to look at, and they dress up any home while removing the appearance of clutter. Here are some of the top benefits this garden will land you:
Small Space Garden Solution
Living in a tiny home or small apartment may mean you don’t have much space for plants, but vertical gardening is a solution many urban settings adore. Basically, it allows you to take advantage of the unused space above your head.
If you rent, your landlord may not want you to dig up the grass or complete landscaping work on their property. You may not even have much of a yard to work with at all, and this is where gutter gardening becomes especially convenient. Similar to container gardening, gutters are lightweight and easy to move around your home.
The price of installing a gutter garden at home is less than building a raised garden bed or using multiple planters. This is especially true if you repurpose gutters youhave laying around in storage. Even if you buy the materials you need, you’re probably looking at spending around $35 at Home Depot. Gutters are an affordable alternative.
Because you can build your garden in multiple ways, you can stack the gutter vertically or install them in strategic places to create privacy or decorate your yard. A boring wooden fence or shed wall is instantly dressed up with plants and flowers.
Keep Pets Out of Your Plants
Animals you may have around the home (like dogs) enjoy digging in yards and gardens. A raised garden bed or garden patch may be out of the question for you, yet gutters are too small for dogs to play in. Better yet, they can be hung vertically to avoid pets from reaching your plants whatsoever.
If you have pet birds, however, be sure to only grow nontoxic plants. Do some research to find out which plants are safe for your bird species, to avoid any accidental poisonings.
Downsides to Maintaining a Gutter Garden
Drawbacks come with everything, and planters are no different. Below are the most important cons to using gutters as planters:
Soil Dries Quickly
If your planters are in a full-sun area, the soil may dry out easily and quickly. This can cause your plants to weaken or die off, especially if you don’t set up a self-watering system. The materials you use to build your garden are vital. White plastic gutters, for example, can help reflect sunlight and heat away from your plants. In contrast, dark gray or black metal may heat up under the harsh sun.
On the flip side, watering and drainage is a serious issue if you don’t drill holes into the bottoms of your gutters. The water may not always drain out enough regardless, so planting drought-tolerant plants is an ideal alternative for many people.
If you select plants that grow outwards rather than up, their growth may cause the dirt to fall out of the planter. Try placing each plant closer together in order to seal the dirt from escaping. Alternatively, try planting succulents, or use chicken wire or mesh to hold the soil in.
Pre-made vertical gardens are expensive, and fancy gutters can cost more than traditional pots. Sure, they’re easy to set up and all the hard work is already done for you. However, building your own garden is much more affordable and can often be created using materials already in your home.
Once you’ve designed your ideal garden, check out these tips on maintaining your gutter plants.