By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
Some of us don’t have a big yard in which to grow our warm season gardens and some of us have no yard at all. There are alternatives, though. These days many containers are used to grow flowers, herbs, and even vegetables. These containers include gutter garden ideas. Research does not indicate who originated the idea of growing shallow rooted plants in a prepared gutter, but it is a worthwhile undertaking.
What is a Gutter Garden?
If you’ve not seen them, in person or online, you may be asking what is a gutter garden? It’s a rain gutter designed to hold your choice of plants and decorate a wall, fence, porch railing, or other area. Use your creativity to put a gutter garden in some of your free space. If you need inspiration, take a look here. Consider these uses for gutter gardens:
- Hanging for vertical appeal: Thread thin wire through a gutter and use it to hang after planting. You may use more than one gutter piece in the hanging arrangement.
- Hide an unpleasant view: Use a series of hanging gutters to hide your trash cans or the neighbor’s old car parked in the backyard.
- Growing herbs near kitchen: Oregano, tarragon and thyme are among the shallow rooted herbs that are great for this and all within easy access for use.
- Repelling aphids: Plant nasturtiums into smaller pieces of gutter along with chives, dill, or lemon balm. Move them as needed to areas where aphids are attacking new growth. The fragrance of the herbs repels aphids and other pests, while flowers of nasturtiums act as a trap for the pests.
- Seasonal color: Plant pansies in spring and fall or alyssum, creeping phlox, petunias in summer.
- Create a succulent garden on a wall: Hang old gutters on a wall and fill with your favorite succulent plants for added appeal.
How to Make a Gutter Garden
Choose gutters with open space. Old gutters that have not rusted may be appropriate for the project. Some sources say they’ve purchased them new and inexpensively. You’ll need end caps and possibly glue to keep caps in place. You’ll also want screws if you’re attaching them to a fence or wall.
Cut them into appropriate lengths, wearing safety glasses. Drill holes for wire if your garden will hang and add drainage holes, unless the gutter garden will be at an angle where it can drain.
Paint gutters for a more colorful display. Hang on a stand, if desired.
What to Plant in Gutter Gardens
The best garden gutter plants are those with spreading roots instead of those that continue to grow downward. Succulent plants generally have spreading roots and grow perfectly in shallow containers, such as a portion of gutter. Besides the plants already mentioned, you can try:
- Greens (lettuce, spinach, and colorful salad greens)
- Snap peas
- Jade plants
- Sedum (many varieties, both upright and creeping)
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