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Creating your own gutter garden is a great way to re-purpose worn out gutters to create a beautiful garden within a limited amount of space. Gutter gardens have been growing in popularity as city dwellers search for new ways to bring plants into their backyard. The best news is that this DIY project won’t cost you a ton of money and it’s a great way to take advantage of vertical spaces by securing your gutters vertically on a trellis or fence.
Whether you choose to fill your gutters with flowers, or edibles like strawberries and herbs, a gutter garden is sure to be a great addition to your patio, deck or backyard. Let’s get started!
Materials You’ll Need:
- Gutters cut into equal sections
- Gutter end caps (both right and left end caps!)
- PVC glue
- Mounting brackets and screws
- Electric drill and drill bit, screw
- Potting soil, flowers, and edibles of your choice.
Steps to Take:
- Clean out your gutters and clear them of any grime, dirt and flaking shingles. If you think that your gutters were painted with lead paint, do not use them as a planter for any edibles.
- Cut your gutters into equal sections using a handsaw.
- Glue your end caps on the right and left sides of your gutter.
- Drill a series of small holes down the length of the gutter. This will allow water to drain.
- Repaint the gutters. If you prefer the weathered look, feel free to skip this step. We think that adding a fresh coat of paint adds character to your project. If you are painting your gutter, apply a plastic primer beforehand. This will help the paint stick to the PVC gutter. You may need to give your gutters two coats of paint in order to really seal the deal.
- Select a suitable hanging spot (see below).
- Wherever you choose to put your gutter garden, make sure there is ample sunlight!
- Mark space for your brackets. We suggest using two brackets per channel. If you are arranging your gutters vertically, leave at least a foot between each row to allow your gardens to grow and to ensure that there is ample sunlight hitting your flowers or edibles.
- Fasten the gutter garden to your selected area with mounting brackets and screws.
For a suitable hanging spot, consider:
- Mounting the gutter garden to the side of your deck.
- Hanging gutters vertically on a fence or trellis.
- Using your gutter garden as a window planter.
- Attaching the gutters to the side of your home.
The Finishing Touches on Your Gutter Garden
Fill your gutters with potting mix just below the lip. We suggest filling your gutter with the lightest soil you can find. If you are concerned about moisture retention, add a bit of peat moss too.
Consider adding plants that give a burst of color to your backyard. If you can grow it in a 4” pot, you are most likely able to plant it in your gutter garden since it's a shallow area. Here are some plants to consider:
- Lettuce, salad greens and spinach
- Radish and other small root vegetables
- Strawberries and other small fruit
- A variety of cacti
- Herbs like mint, thyme, parsley and chives
- Marigolds, violas and pansies
Your new gutter garden is sure to add charm to an otherwise uninteresting area! Thanks to their elevated existence, rabbits, bugs and other pests will stay out of your garden. And, remember to water your gutter garden regularly at the soil level!
Avoiding Unwanted Gardens in Your Gutters
Repurposing your gutters with a small garden is a great idea when your gutters are unattached from your home. But, if you have looked at your gutters lately, you may have noticed that they have been sprouting roots, due to neglect. You may not realize it, but your clogged gutter problem can cause serious and costly foundation and structural damage to your home.
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Your gutters have one purpose and one purpose only: to divert rainwater away from your home. When your gutters become filled with unwanted debris like leaves, twigs and shingle grit, the flow of water will be interrupted, and water can spill over your gutters, damaging your soffit and fascia board. This will also cause water to pool around the base of your home, seeping into your foundation, causing cracks, mildew or mold.
For these reasons, it’s important to regularly maintain your gutters by properly cleaning them about three times a year. When cleaning your gutters, be sure to have someone at the base of your ladder that can keep it steady to prevent any accidents. As an alternative, consider hiring a professional gutter cleaner to complete the job for you.
Gutter cleaning is a temporary solution to a permanent problem. If you are looking for a more permanent solution to your clogged gutter problem, a gutter protection system, like LeafFilter, may be a viable option for you. Gutter guards keep debris out of your gutters, allowing water to flow freely and divert properly away from your home. However, not all gutter guards are created equal and you should conduct your own research before making the investment.
Remember to keep the garden out of your rain gutter with proper maintenance and enjoy your new garden with your reclaimed gutters in your backyard!