Eco-DIY: recycle old gutters into a vertical garden

by EcoStreet on May 8, 2009

in EcoDIY, EcoFood, EcoHouse

When Suzanne Forsling moved from the US Midwest to Alaska, she discovered this novel idea for keeping her salad crops off the cold ground and away from critters who messed with them. She used new guttering, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t use old guttering, either that from your own home, or from a reclamation yard. This is a very inventive way of gardening if you don’t have a garden. Use a house wall, your balcony or expand your garden if you have one by using a garden wall.


You can read exactly how Suzanne set up her gutter garden in this article from the Juneau Empire.

To conserve water, you could place potted plants under the guttering to soak up any water that drains away from your salad crops.

How does your garden grow? [Juneau Empire]
[via: greenUPGRADER]

Recommended books:

[sellfire id=”513120ca0c888c157c6acd7d” name=”Recycled guttering”]

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Uncle B May 8, 2009 at 11:25 am

We will need protein in the coming stressful times, and the arrogant, well fed Uber-class, will enforce their “NIMBY” no chickens by-laws in spite of poor children going hungry. We need extensive development of Aquaculture, which yield veggies and fish in one neat process! Species of fish, preferred greens, feeding circulation facts, all must be revealed on the net, the last great hope of the common folk of America! We will record every bit of highly valued information offered and through e-mail and by swapping disks of survival information, spread the word! Give us articles revealing the methods we need to survive in the likes of Detroit City, and other places decimated by recession, torn by unemployment. We soon will be sitting in Shanties, with LED lights, at computers trying to keep meat on our bones, using methods we don’t understand, like veggie gardens, fish culture, composting and anything else that might come along! The jobs, even in the car manufacturing area are gone to Asia, and now we must find new means of survival. Please help us now, Please!


Celine May 13, 2009 at 12:10 pm

This vertical gerden is just ACE!
Very aesthetic and better for your back!


Elizah Leigh May 13, 2009 at 11:31 pm

This is one of those ideas that is so brilliant that I’m slightly envious that I didn’t think about it first. I think that instead of swiping copper pipes from construction sites, people across the country might be very tempted to permanently borrow any unguarded gutters that may be laying around. I’m a member of a green social network called Greenwala and everyone is ALWAYS sharing nifty ideas to repurpose household items, but I think that this one is going to take the cake. I’m posting it now in our Green 101 section — thanks for the awesome inspiration!!


noel levinson June 8, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Isn’t the vinyl that the rain gutters are made of very toxic?


Tracy Stokes June 9, 2009 at 8:49 am

Hi Noel, good question. Also, if they are toxic would this have any effect on the plants (after all these are used to move water into our water-butts that we water our plants from). I don’t know the answer to this question but will ask around, or if anyone reading this knows the answer, please comment.


garden lovr June 18, 2009 at 3:57 am

i just came across another great idea for vertical hanging gardens, and they’re called woolly pockets! basically they are soft sided, breathable pockets made from recycled plastic that can be hung on any vertical surface indoors or outdoors. because the pockets breathe your plants actually thrive. you can check them out for yourself at


Nikki June 18, 2009 at 11:08 am

I love the woollypockets idea. Just had a look at the website and according to the photos it seems the models used their clothes to make these pockets? 😉
.-= Nikki´s last blog ..EcoDIY: WALL-E the recycled robot =-.


garden lovr June 18, 2009 at 6:48 pm

in response to noel and tracy-the recycled plastic in woolly pockets shouldn’t hurt the plants. many watering cans, water bottles, and even brita water filters are made from plastic. it’s not toxic, it just doesn’t biodegrade very easily. however the process for making new plastic is quite toxic.


Get Home Improvement Ideas October 10, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Very practical and beautiful at the same time. We have had some trouble with the cats in our neighborhood doing their “business” in our garden.

We found some eco friendly chemicals to help deal with the problem, but this concept certainly is worth looking into.
.-= Get Home Improvement Ideas´s last blog ..Good Fall Lawn Care Literally Means Greener Grass =-.


janet October 22, 2009 at 10:12 am

The copper gutters look great…but you would have to line the insides, especially with an acidic soil as the plants would suffer.


Gavin November 21, 2009 at 9:46 pm

That’s a great way to make an easy vertical garden. Very practical
.-= Gavin´s last blog ..Green Curtain Greenwall from Kyocera =-.


Dena: Aluminum Recycling PA November 29, 2009 at 11:58 pm

This is a really unique idea and I’m sure it makes tending the garden a bit easier, since the gutters can be placed higher off the ground. Furthermore, this is a great recycling example, essentially making something out of nothing.


Carole Pemberton November 30, 2009 at 7:09 am

This is a great DIY idea but if your fossicking doesn’t turn up any old guttering do you know about the Garsy system which is a sort of similar, commercially available kit for vertical (and in some case, portable) gardening that enables you to actually DIG in the potting media as opposed to some of the mainly decorative greenwalls on the market now?

We sell the Garsy system down here in Oz but I’m sure there will be US distributors if you contact the manufacturers on

Because of the large volume of potting media used in the Garsy system, the units don’t dry out easily so you actually conserve water too- and they’re great for growing your own fresh, clean, veggies/herbs/strawberries etc.!


Mary Y. Byrd November 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Hope you have a lovely day.


Antonia Crosson December 30, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Hello i read your site frequently and wanted to wish you all the best for the New Year!


Kuswanto February 7, 2010 at 7:20 pm

This is nice idea for my future house.
.-= Kuswanto´s last blog ..Japan’s Illustrative Manhole Covers =-.


Maggie February 23, 2010 at 7:19 pm

That’s brilliant! Opens up tons of possibilities for urban gardening too.
.-= Maggie´s last blog ..My Recipe Is A Finalist! =-.


Andrew Beck March 7, 2010 at 8:53 am

We have use guttering extensively for vertical garden use it seems as in this case to work very effectively. We have been able to grow a variety of different plants including plants and herbs and fed subsurface irrigation through the gutters to allow the systems to grow with a minimum of care. We are currently developing a similar system using greywater, though some councils in Western Australia are very restrictive in this area.


Cindy Compton March 20, 2010 at 4:11 am

This could be a great concept for bringing farming to the urban poor of the world.

There is also a vertical garden company called Vertical Gardens, LLC ( uses recycled fabrics to make vertical gardens that can be used by urban poor to plant food in vertical spaces in crowded slums( I’ve heard they have pilot project going on in India. Could be way cool, also …. at least some people are trying to have a positive impact…


Carlos March 23, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Regarding using copper gutters. Don’t! Most copper salts are highly toxic – it’s really not something you want accumulating in your system or in your food chain.


Rhonda Daniels March 29, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I love this!
What a great idea for small ‘crops’.
Gee, now I want to go create a vertical herb garden 🙂
.-= Rhonda Daniels´s last blog ..Start Your Herbs with a Mini Greenhouse! =-.


Jim June 7, 2010 at 5:37 pm

What a fantastically simple idea. Its funny how you can see something and think, “oh yeah” why didn’t I think of that? Well done Suzanne.


Growing Vegetables June 9, 2010 at 12:01 am

I haven’t seen anything like that before! Whan an amazing way of recycling for your garden 🙂


Deb Porter June 12, 2010 at 2:03 am

What a great idea. Using this method is a great way to conserve water. You can pick up used gutters at any house that is replacing their gutters. Contact Sears who replaces a lot of gutters. I am going to give this a try.


Khalilah Hauze August 11, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I often don’t get time to go out into the garden these days. I will have to make time to get out there soon. Thanks for the post!


lisa October 7, 2011 at 11:45 am

Would aluminium gutters be safe to use or do they pose a toxic leaching also? Thank you!

Reply February 3, 2013 at 3:40 am

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