Just because you’re short on yard space doesn’t mean that you can’t grow an amazing garden. With the aid of reclaimed gutters and a little imagination, you can design a vertical garden for very little money and grow all kinds of plants, flowers and vegetables. Ideal for small patios and balconies, these space-saving, sustainable gardens provide a green outlet for those stuck in smaller living spaces, and they add a pleasing natural aesthetic to your outdoor décor as well.
Gutter gardens have been growing in popularity as plant-loving city dwellers search for new spaces to indulge their need for green. You can turn any unused sunny space into prime garden real estate with a few recycled gutters. Ideal for growing shallow-container plants like lettuce, strawberries and scallions, gutter gardens can be assembled in a few hours and enjoyed all summer long.
First, find the gutters that you want to use. Rain gutters are easy to find and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, including plastic, aluminum or copper. Choose one long gutter, or go for several shorter pieces and create a stacked design for your garden.
Next, decide where you will put your new gutter garden. All you need is a sunny space that catches the bright rays at least four hours a day, with enough vertical height to fit the number of gutters that you have. You can attach the gutters to the back of a door with nails or clamps, or hang them from a fence or wall with rope. Some people even attach several rows of gutters to the side of their houses or garages.
If you are buying your gutters at a hardware store, don’t forget to buy endcaps as well. If you are using reclaimed gutters, you may have to get creative and fashion your own. With a little elbow grease and basic hardware, you can create a multi-level garden in a very small space.
Don’t forget to provide draining for your plants, as good drainage is essential for plant growth. You can either drill holes in the bottoms of your gutters, or hang them at a slight angle so that excess water slides away. Make sure your gutters are securely attached or hung, and then fill them with organic potting soil.
Now choose which plants, flowers or vegetables that you would like to see, smell and eat. Many of the most popular kitchen plants do very well in shallow containers, including:
- Herbs: chives, parsley, cilantro, scallions
- Flowers (annual): pansies, violas, marigolds
- Greens: lettuces, chard, kale, spinach, arugula, mache
- Vegetables: radishes, beets and shallow carrot varieties
Thanks to their elevated existence, gutter gardens resist rabbits, bugs, slugs and other pests that troll the ground for food. The added height also makes gutter gardens easier to harvest than traditional gardens, with no bending over or back pain.
Water your gutter garden regularly at the soil level, and it should produce flowers, fruits or vegetables throughout the entire summer season for you to enjoy.