Gutter gardening is a way of creating a small garden by planting flowers, vegetables, or herbs inside pieces of rain gutters.
Gutter gardens add color and a touch of the outdoors to places, like small patios or apartment balconies, that may not have enough space to accommodate real gardens.
Mount gutters on a wall or fence, attach them to a free-standing frame, or hang them with wire to make the most of your available space.
What Can You Plant in Gutter Gardens?
Vegetables, herbs, and flowers all work well in gutter gardens. A gutter garden is ideal for growing salad vegetables.
Small peppers, snap peas, lettuce, spinach, and other leafy vegetables thrive in small spaces.
Cherry tomatoes and strawberries are ideal for gutter gardens because these fruits don’t need much space, and they yield a good harvest.
Mint, basil, rosemary, and oregano are easy to cultivate in a gutter garden. These herbs grow quickly and easily, and don’t need much attention.
For a pretty show of color, plant flowers like marigolds, daisies, pansies, and petunias in a gutter garden. These are hardy flowers that are easy to grow.
Gutter Garden Requirements and Materials
To make two garden gutters, these are the necessary materials:
- 2 pieces of aluminum or PVC guttering
- 4 gutter end caps
- Strong glue or a silicone adhesive
- Gutter hangers
- 4 strong screws OR 4 pieces of strong garden wire
- 4 wall plugs (if the gutter garden is going to be attached to a wall)
- Paint and primer (optional)
- Potting soil
You will also need the following tools:
- Tape measure
- Hacksaw or tin snips
- Drill and half-inch drill bit
How to Make a Gutter Garden
DIY gutter gardens are easy to make. A gutter garden can be placed on a fence, wall, porch railing, or window sill. Follow these simple steps to make a gutter garden:
1. Select a Suitable Spot
A gutter garden needs some sunlight. Select an east-facing spot that gets morning sun, but is protected from the harsh afternoon sun. Find a sturdy fence or wall to support the gutter garden.
2. Cut the Gutters to Size
Most gutters are 20 feet long, which is often too long for a gutter garden. Measure the available space and cut the gutters to the desired length.
Use a hacksaw to cut PVC gutters, or use tin snips to cut aluminum.
3. Prepare the Gutters for Drainage
Before attaching the gutters to the fence or wall, drill half-inch drainage holes, spaced 6 inches apart, along the bottom of the gutters.
4. Attach the End Caps
The end caps prevent the soil from falling out or washing away.
The caps are designed to clip onto the ends of the gutters, but the clips often come loose, so use strong glue or a silicone adhesive to fix the end caps in place on the gutters.
5. Mount the Gutters
Using a Fence or Wall
Drill screws to attach the gutter hangers to the upright posts of the fence. For a more secure attachment, first drill holes in the wall and insert wall plugs before screwing the gutter hangers in.
Hang the gutters on the gutter hangers. Position the gutters at a slight angle to allow for good drainage.
Using a Free-Standing Frame
If the gutter garden is going to be attached to a free-standing frame, ensure the frame is strong enough to support the weight of the gutter garden.
Place the frame in a sunny spot and follow the mounting steps in the previous section to screw the gutter hangers and gutters into the frame.
Hanging a Gutter Garden
Hang a gutter garden from an overhead support beam by drilling a set of holes in the upper part of both the front side and back side of the gutter, at both ends (creating eight holes in total).
Thread a length of strong gardening wire through each set of holes to suspend the gutter from the overhead support beam.
6. Paint the Gutter Garden
Paint the gutter with brightly-colored paint to add a splash of color. Before applying the paint, use a primer as an undercoat to ensure the paint doesn’t peel.
7. Fill the Gutter Garden With Soil
Place a thin layer of gravel or perlite along the bottom of the gutter to allow for good drainage. Fill the gutter with a good quality, light potting soil.
Mix compost into the soil to encourage rapid, healthy plant growth. Peat moss added to the soil also encourages healthy plant growth.
Gutter Garden Care Tips
A gutter planter is easy to care for, but maintaining the garden well does require some attention. Without regular upkeep, the plants will die and the gutter garden will look unsightly.
Watering a Gutter Garden
Gutter gardens need to be watered in the same way ordinary gardens do. During the rainy season, regular rainfall is often enough to keep a gutter garden well-irrigated.
In the dry season, or if there has been no rain for more than four days, water the gutter garden lightly every 3–4 days.
Avoid overwatering. Too much water causes root rot in plants and eventually kills the plants.
Fertilizing a Gutter Garden
A gutter garden contains only a limited amount of soil. The nutrients in the soil don’t last long and get washed away easily.
To replace lost nutrients, fertilize the soil with a good-quality fertilizer at the beginning of every planting season, and every six weeks thereafter.
Replacing the Soil
During a single planting season, the soil only needs replacing when it has been washed away by heavy rain or overwatering.
Replace the soil between planting seasons, before sowing new seeds in the gutter garden.