Let’s say you’ve just gotten a new rain gutter system installed on your house. Great news! But what are you going to do with your old gutters?
If you’ve got a crafty streak and a green thumb, one creative way to use your old rain gutters is to turn them into planters for your very own gutter garden. Lightweight, narrow, and easy to modify, old aluminum gutters are ideal to customize into a unique garden of your own design – especially if you don’t have a lot of space to work with. Interested and having some fresh fruits and veggies from what could easily be another pile of scrap behind the shed? Read on!
The most basic gutter gardens are mounted to the side of your house, a deck rail, or something similar. Since the gutter is so narrow, this configuration takes up very little space while still providing plenty of room for a garden to grow. Here’s a basic process for creating a garden from your old gutters:
- Clean the old gutters as best you can, and using tin snips for aluminum or a saw for PVC, cut your old gutters to the desired length as evenly as possible. In the case of metal gutters, discard any rusted or rotted segments.
- Attach appropriate end caps to both ends of each of your trimmed gutter lengths. You probably won’t have enough (if any) on hand from your old gutter system, so a trip to the store may be in order. Slide the end caps into place, and secure in place with silicone caulk or another permanent adhesive. When your gutter planter is filled with soil, the pressure will push the end caps off otherwise.
- Once the end caps are attached and dry, turn the gutters over the drill drainage holes every 4 – 6 inches. A drill bit of about a quarter inch should do the trick.
- Now, decide where you want your gutter garden to go. Make sure it’s somewhere that will get plenty of sunlight, and somewhere you’ll be able enjoy the colors when it’s in full bloom. You can mount it to the side of your house (be very careful not to damage your siding in a way harmful to your home), shed, patio rail, or somewhere else. Once you decide, simply use regular gutter mounting hardware.
- Now it’s time to plant! Fill the gutters up to about a half-inch below the top with the potting soil of your choice, and plant your flowers, fruits, or vegetables of your choice according to the directions on the seeds or starters. Strawberries are a popular choice because they don’t require very deep roots. The same is true of lettuce and herbs. Be sure to leave about 4 – 6 inches of space between each plant, spaced about according to the water drainage holes.
- If wall-mounted gutters aren’t your style, you can also create a stacked, hanging gutter garden by threading sturdy metal wires through the ends of the end-capped gutters (see picture).
There you have it; a beautifying, space-saving, waste-eliminating way to use your old gutters for some fresh, free produce. If you needed one more reason to get your old gutters replaced, this should be more than enough.