Tag Archives: hanging gutter garden

Hanging Gutter Garden Part 2: Putting it Together

I know it has been over 3 months since Hanging Gutter Garden Part 1: Adventures in Home Depot. But I do have excuses. One excuse is that I lost my camera battery charger and I could not take pictures of my progress, another is that I’m lazy. But, just before the backpacking extravaganza (and after losing Reid’s camera in the Canyonlands) I broke down and purchased a new (expensive) charger (with LED charging screen and European outlet adapter).

Now that I have the means to take picture I figured it was about time to share my patio garden with you lovely people.

As I said in this post, I wanted to create the hanging gutter garden like this one.

For mine I didn’t have the fancy pants hardware (or the fancy pants bank account). I used the gutter given to me by the gutter guys (A story told here). I also purchased a plastic gutter for $5 at Resource 2000, where they sell salvaged construction materials.

The finished product – metal gutter

Bottom Level = Lettuce

Middle Level = Radishes (recently harvested and replanted)

Top Level = Spinach (recently replanted due to struggling first crop)

The finished product – plastic gutter

All Levels = salad mix (sprouting)

The materials:

  • 1 gutter cut into three equal parts (process is almost identical no matter the material, I tried with both plastic and metal gutters)
  • 6 gutter caps – the plastic ones are quite nice and can be purchased at Home Depot, Metal are also nice but mine had to be bent to fit the gutter, which was quite a process.
  • 2 hooks – I chose some that screw into a drilled hole
  • 16’ of 1/8” steel cable cut into 6 equal lengths (or as much as you’ll need to fill your space, gutters should be at least 18” apart to allow adequate sun exposure and plant growth) – I bought this kit at walmart because I was there buying pots and it was the only cable they had. The kit actually came in handy as the clips (though not exactly what I was looking for) worked perfectly. As I worked I realized I needed 32” of cable for both my gutter gardens so I ended up having to go to Home Depot for a yard of steel cable.
  • 12 clips – 6 came in the kit mentioned above and there was another pack nearby without 3 clips (no cable) so I bought two of these packs
  • 2 thimbles – these came in the kit mentioned above but they are also sold alone

Above = clips, Below = thimble,
Source

  • Wire Cutters – sharpened
  • Electric drill – with attachments for drilling holes large enough for the steel wire to go through and for tightening nuts on the clips

Step 1. Cut the gutters
The gutter man who gave it to me cut the metal gutter in uneven thirds; my dad then cut into equal length pieces. I sawed the plastic gutter into (almost) equal thirds (I did it all by myself thank you).

Step 2. Drill holes
My dad helped me drill two holes, large enough for the steel cable to fit through, across from each other on each end, and one hole at the center of the base on each end (6 holes per gutter section).

Step 3. Fit the end caps
This part was quite complicated for the metal gutter. The plastic gutter was simple, the caps fit perfectly. My Metal Gutter was not the exact shape of the cap. My dad used pliers to shape the end of the gutter to fit into the cap and a rubber mallet to force it in where it wasn’t exactly perfect. He did this for each of the 6 end caps and I am so grateful for that. If you buy your gutter where you buy your end cap this shouldn’t be a problem for you, mine came from different sources.

Step 4. Cut steel cable into 6 36” sections
We definitely over estimated the amount of steel cable to use. My dad and I were not at my apartment during the building process so we wanted to give ourselves some extra. You might not need so much extra slack when building your gutter garden. Be careful when cutting the wire, it tend to fray; very sharp wire cutters can help prevent fraying.

Step 5. Thread the steel cable
With one end shorter than the other thread the cable through the two holes at the top of the gutter. This can be quite difficult if the cable has frayed. Also be prepared to be poked with sharp metal; gloves are probably a good idea at this point.

Step 6. Secure the cable
Loosen the nuts on the clip and thread both ends of the cable through the clip. Pull the clip down on the cable where its not pulling to much but is tight. Finagle the cable so the short end only pokes out of the clip about an inch and tighten the nuts on the clip, a little on each nut so it tightens evenly. Repeat this process (step 5 and 6) for each gutter on each end (a total of 6 times)

The Metal Gutter

The Plastic Gutter

Step 7. Connect the pieces
Starting with the gutter section you want at the base of your garden thread the long end of the cable through the hole in the base of the middle gutter section. Attach a clip around this single end of cable and tighten. Make sure the clip is at the length you want. Do this on both ends, keeping the gutter level. Do the same thing with the middle gutter and the top gutter. Leave the top gutter for now.

The Metal Gutter

The Plastic Gutter

Step 8. Hanging the dang thing
This was another complicated step. The whole contraption is very heavy, awkward and dynamic. This stage was obviously done at my apartment with my boyfriends help to replace my dad. There is most definitely a better way than how we did this but I am the queen of doing things in the most complicated way. We measured the distance between cables, drilled holes for the screw hook and screwed them in. Then we hauled the apparatus up a step stool and one of our kitchen chairs between the two of us. I stabilized my end as he threaded a clip onto the cable then a thimble around the hook and tightened it. We kept the thing slightly above the railing so that when we screwed it down it would be tight. Mind you this took many, many, many, many, MANY tries because there were so many pieces to hold steady at a precise place, but we finally got it and 3 months later it looks fantastic.

Side note: The method above details how we hung the metal gutters. For the plastic gutters we screwed the bottom gutter onto the railing first, but we couldn’t get it tight enough at the top and it looks like it’s leaning forward since the hooks at the top and the screws at the base are not directly vertical. Therefore we developed the method above, which was also difficult but returned better results.

The Hook in the Ceiling

These gutters dry out VERY fast, especially in an arid climate like Colorado. I have struggled with wilting, browning, and flat out dying plants in these gutters since planting. I have discovered that on hot days I must water them twice: once in the morning and once in the evening, in order to keep them healthy. Someone in a more humid environment might not experience these problems.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

How did you like this post? Are you interested in making a gutter garden? Do you have questions about my process? Leave a comment.

Hanging Gutter Garden Part 1: Adventures in Home Depot

So, I live in a second floor apartment and really want to grow my own food this summer (and also have pretty flowers).  That said, I have many projects planned to make our outside space more livable (we have a beautiful corner balcony with lots of room)

I plan to:

  • Make this container structure for pretty flowers
  • Plant tomatoes and peppers in pots
  • Make this pot tower for herbs
  • and make a hanging gutter garden like this

I have all the supplies for the first three; I just need to wait until it is time to start planting.  The gutter garden is going to be the biggest project and I was planning to use my free time between class and work today to get a good solid start on it.  This is the story of why that didn’t happen.

Planning ahead, which is completely out of character in the first place, meant that this morning I loaded up the website with the instructions for my hanging garden onto my kindle fire.  My thought process was was if there is no Internet in Home Depot I can still see what materials I need.  I did not however think about measuring my banister to ceiling distance or anything practical like that.

After class I drove down to Home Depot.  I went straight to the garden center because I knew I needed potting soil.  Then I headed over to the building supplies section.

Either everyone in home depot (including the people who don’t work there) are really friendly or I looked really lost and out of place because on the way to the opposite end of the store I was stopped multiple times, “Do you need help finding something miss?”

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Me, scooting along through Home Depot amongst a sea of helpful employees and customers

To most I replied, “No thank you, I’m fine.”  But when I couldn’t find the gutters I finally said, “Yes where do you keep rain gutters?”

“Excuse me?”

“Rain gutters, like the kind you put on your house to divert the flow of rain.”

Strange look… “Well, they’re right down this aisle here about halfway.”

“Thank you!” Big smile.

I began comparing prices and picked the cheapest one: 10’ of plastic gutter for $4.89.  And the ends came in two packs with rubber around the edges for extra sealing power.  Now, 10’ is a lot of feet and when I started driving my cart around the store with that hugeness sticking off both ends of the cart I got even more stares than before.  Then it started sliding off the front end and I just barely catch it.

“Careful there miss!”  One employee called to me, “Are you finding what you need?”

“I’m looking for 1/8” steel cable.”

“Just down here, how much do you need.  I can cut it for you.”

My mind goes blank.  Thought process: How much do I need?  I didn’t measure.  You’re an idiot!  To the employee: “I don’t know how much I need.”

“Well that will be tricky for measuring, won’t it?”  Gives me a smile.  “Let me know if you figure it out.”  Leaves.

I pull out my Kindle, thinking maybe I can estimate based on what they used.  Internet doesn’t work, “We cannot load your page please check that you have access to internet connection.”  Eff you kindle fire.  So much for planning ahead.

I stand there staring at the roll of steel cable (like that’ll help me figure out the distance between my banister and balcony ceiling).  I decide to just make a return trip after measuring and I move down the aisle to where they keep hooks and things.  There are too many choices!  What do I even need?  I start running through options of how to hang this thing, when a man walks over.

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“What are you doing with that gutter?”  He asks.

“I’m making a gutter garden, I live in an apartment with a patio so I don’t have anyplace to grow things.”

“Oh how nice.  My friend is doing that with her old gutters, she had plastic ones like this that got ravaged in a hailstorm.  You might want to look at the metal ones; they’re much more durable.”

“Oh thank you so much,” I say, “I didn’t even think about that.”

“Oh yeah and the plastic ones get cracked and dried.  Just be careful with the metal, so you don’t cut yourself.  I built a shed, and last weekend I installed metal gutters on it, my hands are still recovering.”

“Thanks again, I’m going to go check them out.”  Heads back to gutter aisle.  Metal gutters, metal gutters.  There are silver and white… white are twice as expensive?!  Why because they are white?  Oh they are bigger.  I think I want bigger, holds more soil and roots.  No, no, I don’t think I can do this today.  Puts all gutters back.

I went home empty-handed (at least without supplies for this project because I totes bought potting soil and a cute blue pot)

Anyway, on the way home, on the street I live on, I saw one man cutting some gutters, another spray painting some, and another man with his dog on a leash standing and talking to them.  I look in the rearview mirror.  Could it be?  Do I really have this luck?  Truck says Express Gutter Installation.  I screeched my car to a halt and walked over to the man with his dog.

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A sign from the garden gods

“Excuse me is this your house?”

“Yes.”  Strange look.

“Are you replacing the gutters?”

“Yes.” Stranger look.

“What are you doing with the old gutters?”

The man who was spray painting says, “You don’t want those, they’re broken and cracked.”

“Well I might, I’m just making a planter. They don’t need to function as gutters.”  I say.

The homeowner says, “Well you are welcome to take a look.”

They are quite broken but they’d probably work and they’re free.  I’m prepared to tell them I’ll take them when the spray painter tells me I can have one of their new ones.

“Really?”  Eyes light up like stars.

Gutter cutter says, “Would you like me to cut it for you?”

“Yes in thirds would be great.”  I say, not believing my luck.

So, he cuts the gutters (not in perfect thirds; but I’m willing to overlook that for the low, low cost of free).

I say, “Thank you so much!  I think this is fate, I just came from Home Depot.”

Spray painter says, “Yeah, gutters can get pretty expensive.”

The homeowner says, “That’ll be $20.”  My heart sinks for a split second before he laughs off his joke.

“Thanks again!”  I say, awkwardly carrying my new gutters to my car.

The garden gods are smiling at me today!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the other supplies to make the hanging gutter garden so I will just have to wait for the weekend to continue with this project.  Stay tuned for more building adventures, until next time!

***Update*** The project is complete and there is a blog post to prove it.

 

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

What garden projects are you working on for this summer?