It’s a dilemma that every passionate gardener will face at some point; wanting to grow more plants but not having enough space to grow them in. Either you stop planting new things, or start improvising.
We like to improvise and, unlikely as it may sound, rain gutters can be a great solution if you need more gardening space. They’re cheap and extremely versatile.
You can easily make a gutter planter box and put it wherever you like—on the side of a raised planter, on a fence, along a wall, or stack several up in a tiered frame. There’s almost no end to the possibilities.
So, where do you start?
How to make a rain gutter planter box – a step by step guide
The easiest way to make a gutter planter box calls for some spare gutters, a bit of cutting, some caps, and not much else. It won’t take you long or require any special skills. Here’s how to do it:
Materials and tools you’ll need
- Old or inexpensive aluminium or PVC rain gutters
- Gutter caps
- Glue for the caps
- Wood dividers and screws (optional)
- Spray paint (optional)
- Power drill
Step 1 – Get some spare gutters
The first step is to find yourself some gutters. Used ones work perfectly, so if your neighbour is renovating their property, don’t hesitate to ask them if you can have their old gutters. Or maybe it’s time to upgrade your own?
You can also look online, raid a scrapyard, or buy some at a local store, they’re cheap and easy to find.
Aluminium gutters are better for this DIY job than PVC ones, but you can work with any type of gutter.
Step 2 – Cut the gutters to measure
Before you do any cutting, work out where you’ll place the rain gutter boxes. Measure the length of the available space and cut the gutters to size using a saw.
Step 3 – Fit gutter caps
For this step, you can use gutter caps that you can find at a store. Or you can make some out of scrap wood boards.
If you go with regular caps, the job is easy but be warned, the caps tend to come off easily. The solution to this common problem is to glue the caps to the gutters. Just apply a thin line of glue on the inside of the cap and fasten it to the gutter. Allow a few minutes for the glue to dry.
If you’re quite handy, you can grab a wood board and cut out your own custom-sized caps. Place the end of a piece of gutter on the board, chalk the outline, and start sawing.
Used gutters can have irregular ends, so you may need to trim the wood here and there, but there’s not much to it. Once the wood caps fit in the rain gutter, simply screw them in place.
If you’re planning to make a long gutter planter box, you can insert a couple of wood dividers to separate the plants. A couple of screws will be enough to hold the dividers in place.
Tip: You can use spray paint to make your gutter planter boxes more colourful.
Step 4 – Attach the rain gutter planter box
Now that you have a gutter planter box you need to do something with it, right?
- You can attach a gutter planter box to the wall of a rectangular raised planter box. Drill some holes in one wall of the gutter and screw it to the wall of the big planter box.
- You can put together a rectangular wooden stand and attach the gutters to it on multiple levels. The simplest way to do this is to get four planks or posts of wood, two longer than the others, and use screws to fix them at the corners. You can then attach small gutter planter boxes to the vertical sides using two or three screws at each end.
- You can also put a gutter planter box on the fence. Use screws to fix it to the posts.
Tip: Don’t forget to drill some drainage holes at the bottom of your gutter planter box.
All that is left to do is to fill the rain gutter planter box with potting soil and plant the seeds or flowers of your choice.
Gutter planter box ideas
Gutter planter boxes can help you create more gardening space with hardly any expense. But you shouldn’t ignore their decorative value. Hanging them here and there can brighten up any space.
Here are some ideas for how to use gutter planter boxes to make your garden or outside space look more interesting. Plus, an idea for an indoor herb garden.
1. Hanging gutter garden
If you have a pergola or a gazebo in your garden or a roofed deck, you can close off one end with a hanging gutter garden.
For this, you’ll need 3 or 4 gutter planter boxes of the same length. If the gutter boxes are not too long, two hanging screws will be enough.
Secure the boxes to the screws with metallic coils. The upper box will drain into the middle one, which in turn will drain into the lower one, so there won’t be too much spillage.
2. Deck planters
You can decorate your deck by hanging gutter planter boxes on the rail. You don’t want to screw the boxes to the rail as it might damage it. Use metal brackets instead.
3. Decorate a wall with gutter planters
If one wall of the house doesn’t look all that great, you can hide the flaws by creating a walled garden. For this project, the rain gutter planters you use should vary in size.
Try placing a small gutter high on the wall and bigger ones lower down, at irregular intervals.
If you’re not interested in decorating the wall but in maximising your gardening space, you can attach long planter boxes along the wall from one end to the other.
And you can put up several rows of gutter planters, only don’t make it too crowded. Make sure your plants have plenty of space to grow and enough exposure to the sun.
4. Freestanding herb gutter garden
Rain gutter planters are perfect for growing herbs. You can easily build a wooden stand, using just a few beams and some nails. You can hang the gutter planter on hooks, one on top of the other.
Tip: Check the watering requirements for each herb and place the ones that need more water in the lower boxes.
5. Indoor herb gutter planter garden
If you want to have fresh herbs all year round, you can use rain gutter planters to create an indoor wall garden.
Can you find an empty piece of wall in your kitchen or enclosed terrace? Attach a few gutter planters to it on top of each other. To avoid damaging the wall, you can put up a chalkboard or a wooden board and screw the planters to it.
You can use this small planter garden to grow parsley, thyme, dill, bunching onions, garlic, and the like. Check out our guide on planting indoor herbs for more inspiration about creating an edible garden.
Grow some space
As you can see, rain gutters are just great at generating more planting space in likely—and unlikely—places.
Once you learn how to make a rain gutter planter box, you may not be able to stop building more and more. And that’s okay!
Because after all, if you find an empty space, why not grow something in it?