It’s pretty easy to recycle gutter into flower boxes; the best part is that you can customize the size to fit your needs. We were able to install a 15 foot piece of recycled gutter along our deck railing. Traditional flower boxes would have been much more expensive.
The gutters on the back side of our house have always been a bit of a mess. I’m surprised any water flowed through them with the many hills and valleys in each section. They always seems to be jammed full of pine straw and other debris, needing constant maintenance. When we found a snake in one, that was the final straw – those gutters were coming down! As we took them down, it felt wasteful to throw them away.
Then, Car asked me if we could use them as pots, and plant something in them. I wasn’t sure they’d be deep enough, but then thought they are about the size of planter boxes, which gave me the idea to put them on the outside of the deck rail. Since the deck sits up high and close to the road, we could use the extra privacy with some foliage along the rail.
Gutter is surprisingly easy to install and makes a great planter box if you have something solid (like wood) to screw it into. We picked up 2 end caps to cover each end of the gutter section. They didn’t seem all that secure just snapping them on, so we glued them on with liquid nails. Next, we drilled holes in the bottom for drainage – about a 1/4 inch hole ever 6 inches or so. We didn’t measure, just spaced them out the best we could. Then, we filled the whole thing with potting mix.
Our Growing Sweet Potato Vines
You can see in the picture above that we were doing multiple repairs to the deck. We re-painted the whole deck, including the gutters, so they blend in really nicely. I chose to plant sweet potato vines in the gutter because I’ve had good luck growing them in years past. Sweet potato also grows quickly, and everywhere the vines touch the soil, they will put down more roots. I figured that was perfect for filling in this space. We planted 6 sweet potato slips in the gutter. I also planted a lemon balm (the plant closest in the picture) hoping it would deter mosquitoes. The lemon balm ended up being transplanted because the sweet potatoes took over the whole gutter.
You can see below how quickly the vines spread.
And now, just a couple of months later, the sweet potatoes cover the rail of the deck. Some have intertwined with the lattice and other plants on the deck. It’s been so much fun to watch the growth. We’ve had a wet summer so I haven’t had to worry too much about these drying out. I also placed a layer of mulch on top of the soil to keep moisture in. Any plant in a container will dry out faster than one in the ground, so keep this in mind when choosing what to plant.