How To Build A Gutter Planter

  • Posted on: 1 May 2012
  • By: Shawn DeWolfe
If you can grow out, grow up. I love the idea of turning gutters into growing space. I set to the task of building gardening space out of gutters and some pressure treated wood. Turning gutters into planters Full disclosure: I did not invent this concept. All I am doing here is riffing on it and describing my work to make my own gutter garden. I sussed out the space I had available. The South side of our shed gets a decent amount of light. I didn’t want to penetrate the walls, so I concocted a frame and the frame is to hold a number of gutters. Each gutter can hold several small plants: herbs, plants that do well with shallow roots are ideal. Basil would be good. Potatoes would be bad. Some math meets logistics:
  • I didn’t want to go above six feet in total.
  • I wanted to go as wide as I could.
  • I figured that the most I could manage was five feet before the length and its weight made this physically impractical. If you improvise this design, choose gutters that are five feet long or less.
  • Add in some spacing at the top, the bottom and in between and I have four gutters to install.
Parts:
  • Four pieces of 6 foot 1x6 pressure treated boards. These will stand up to the elements. These pieces cost about $2.75 each.
  • Two 10 foot lengths of gutter. The people at the Rona store were nice to a numpty like me. They chopped them into equal halves before I bought them. These cost about $7 each.
  • The expensive part: the end caps. Each of the four pieces needs a pair of end-caps. Each pair cost $9. So the 20 feet of gutters cost $14, but little plastic-y end pieces cost $36.
  • Add in screws (about 8 short screws-- ⅝” and 16 1 ½” screws).
  • 8 pieces of styrofoam or corks.
Tools:
  • Drill
  • Drill bit (7/64” or smaller)
  • Drill bit for the screws
  • Tape measure
  • Square
  • Saw (optional, no really)
  • Pencil / Pen

Step 1: Pilot Holes

Positioned and lined up two of the wood planks. Then mark where the pilot holes go. To make the boards and gutters all line up, the holes have to be consistent. Mark them at 2 ¾” from the edge and each mark is one foot apart from the other. Load up the small drill bit and drill the pilot holes to sink through both pieces of wood. Repeat so that all four sets of holes are made. Take all of the end caps and drill pilot holes through them.
Lined up wood

Step 2: Position The Boards And Mount The End Caps

Take the two pieces of wood with the pilot holes and separate them so the facing sides. Swap out the drill bit so that you have the screw bit in use. Use the ⅝” screws to fit the end caps into the wood by lining up the pilot holes of the end caps with the wood, so that the end caps mirror each other.
Matching Sides

Step 3: Mount The Gutters

Lay down one of the pieces of wood. Carefully mount each section of gutter so that the end cap tabs get them. If you can get a helper to hold the gutters sturdy, that’s great. Carefully position the other piece of wood with their end caps so that the other side of the gutters snap into the place.
Seating the gutters

Step 4: Put On The Back Supports

Gently lower the wood / gutter contraption so that it’s face down. Measure the outsides of the pieces of wood with the end caps. On the 5 foot wide gutters, this was 61 ½” inches. If you choose the cut the cross supporters, break out the saw and cut the two cross support pieces of wood down to match the outside dimensions. If you want to go saw-free, center the cross beams over the vertical wood pieces. Mount one cross beam at the back top, putting in two 1 ½” screws per side. Screw in the second piece as the lower support beam.
Cross beams in place

Step 5: Putting It In Place

Move the whole contraption carefully to its final position. Rest it against the wall at a position where you want it. The gutters will likely be at the wrong angle. With a helper, gently adjust the gutters so that they are horizontal to the ground (aka not slanted). When they are positioned to your liking, use the other screws. Screw in from the outside to pierce the end caps. This will leave some of the screw point exposed. Tetanus sucks. Use the styrofoam or cork on each screw tip to cover them.
One extra screw
More Adjusting of the gutters

Step 6: Finishing Touches

You can drill drainage holes into the bottom of the gutters to allow excess water to flow into the lower gutters. You’re welcome to paint the gutters and the wood if you wish.

Last updated date

Saturday, December 26, 2015 - 12:39