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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Adding more green to our green... (Our step-by-step guide to making a vertical garden)

 After laying down our lovely lush, green grass, we decided to put up a vertical garden. We have been wanting to do something like this for awhile, even before we bought the house. I have seen many ways to make a vertical garden and read a few very quickly but not in much detail. But we chose to go the gutter route. It wasn't super expensive. All in all everything, including all the flowers and herbs and soil, it came to about R533.00. Okay, maybe it was a little more expensive than we thought it would be, but it turned out really well and we love it and can't wait for the flowers and herbs to grow. 
What We Used...

• 6m piece of u-shaped gutter cut into 3 x 2m pieces. • 9 x mounting brackets 
• 6 x end stoppers to match your gutter. • 18 x screws with wall plugs
• 18 x small washers. • drill. • hammer. • screw driver. • craft knife.
• 4mm drill bit (it is important to match the drill bit to the diameter of your wall plug.
• 1 x bag of compost/potting soil. 
• flowers and herbs of your choice (don't forget to get the right type of flowers for the area you will be putting them in.) All the flowers we got were ‘full sun’ as the wall we put our vertical garden on, gets the full morning and midday sun.

A note before you continue reading: This step-by-step guide of how we did our vertical garden was written by the muscle behind all our D.I.Y. Not only is he charming and wonderful and very able and capable but he can write too :)
Take it away Stu . . .

Step: 1

Start by using your 8mm drill bit to drill holes along the bottom of your gutter pieces. This is to drain water so the plants don't drown. I drilled my holes about 20cm apart, but remember that the more holes you have, the better the drainage. Drill your holes according to the type of plants you will be planting and the amount of sun the area gets.
So if you plant succulents and cacti drilling more holes is better because they need less water (but to be honest I'm no horticulturist so best to use your discretion)

Step: 2

Next it's time to put the end stops in. The nice thing about PVC gutters is that they just clip together. When looking at your gutter, the lip with the largest diameter is the side that faces away from the wall, all the fastening mechanisms hinge on this lip. So for the end stops, place the circle side of the stop in the large lip and rotate back to close off the end, then force the smaller side of the end stop under the smaller gutter lip till it clips into place. Its as easy as that.
Step: 3

Next, use the gutter to figure the hight of your three "levels". Space them evenly down the wall and make sure that the gutters are level. Mark along the top edge at ether end and in the middle of your gutter using your pen or pencil. This will dictate the position of the mounting brackets.

*Remember: 1. Plants need space to grow so don't place the gutters right on top of each other. 2. You're going to want to access the highest gutter (to plant and water) so don't put the top gutter too high up the wall. Its a good idea to start with the highest gutter and work your way down.

Step: 4

Once your happy with the spacing of the gutters its time to mount the brackets.
On the lines you have marked, place the brackets so you can see the line through the screw holes. Use your pen to mark their position on the horizontal line. Next use a masonary drill bit that matches your wall plug diameter and with your drill set to "hammer" start to drill.

*Remember: • When you drill it is important to be aware of the wall you are drilling into. You don't want to drill through any power cables or water pipes, so it's a good idea to use a "stud detecter" to find any potentially horrible booby traps. A stud detecter is like a mini metal detector (similar to the type used to find buried treasure on the beach). Fortunately the wall I was drilling into had no utilities running in it. 
 Also you don't want too drill to deep or too shallow. Most modern drills come with a depth gauge that can be set to your required depth. However if you don't have a depth gauge you can stick a piece of insulation tape or masking tape around your bit at the depth you need. The depth is dictated by the length of your wall plug.


Once you have drilled you holes place the wall plugs in the holes the assemble your brackets with the washers and the screws. 

Step 6:

Place the screw in the holes. (I used screws with a tapered thread so they can be driven in with a hammer). I personally don't use the hammer to drive them in all the way as this some times damages the wall plug. So I give them a little tap just to get them started then use a screw driver to finish the job.

Step: 7

Securing the gutters is as easy as installing the motor in my VW Kombi.... Just kidding. It's as easy placing the end stops in. First place the gutter at an angle in the brackets with the far lip lower than the big round lip. Rotate the gutter towards you till the far lip stops against the bracket lip. Now clip the big round lip over the knob at the end of the bracket. 

Once all your gutters are up. its time to get dirty... with potting soil. 
Place a small stone over each hole in the bottom of your gutter (this insures that the hole stays open and drains properly).
Next being careful not to disturb the stones, add your potting soil.
Next, go nuts with plants (I am aloud to say nuts aren't I?)

And finally sit back and admire your lovely vertical garden.
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Time to get started on stripping out our bathroom . . .  Until next time . . .


  1. I love this! It's going to look so awesome once it starts growing and overflowing.

  2. I LOVE this! Vertical gardens are so gorgeous and this one is going to look AMAZING once it grows a little. Well, even more amazing than it already looks :)