Get Out of the Gutter

… and into my garden!

Since spring has definitely spring here in Dallas (it’s been in the 70s for two weeks), Kevin and I decided it was high time we got busy on some of our outside projects; we can tile the office or paint the bedrooms when we’re dead it’s rainy or 110 outside. First on our list was getting rid of the ugly, scraggily bushes in front of the Little House. Thanks to Craigslist, we didn’t have to lift a finger on that. That freed up some time for us to tackle a project we’ve been itching to get going on.

I’m sure most of you have seen the gutter gardens floating around on Pinterest. When I showed the hubs, he was as excited as I was to try them out. I mean seriously, don’t they look awesome??

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A couple tips on buying guttering from Home Depot. Don’t bring along your 85lb puppy when you’re going to be wrangling 10′ gutters. Also, it is difficult to fit 10′ gutters and a puppy and two full size people into a 2003 Mustang… but it can be done.

The cost breakdown for the gutters was actually less than we’d expected. We had planned on getting aluminum gutters, but after seeing the cost difference between then and the vinyl, the choice was obvious.

– (3) 10′ White Vinyl Gutters @ $5.23 each… $15.69 (They only had white… maybe we’ll spray paint them this fall)
– (6) White Vinyl Gutter Hangers @ $2.35 each… $14.10 (We used these to give the gutters rigidity)
– (3) White Vinyl Gutter Endcaps @ $2.25 each… $6.75 (I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the right price, but we went with it)
– (1) bag Miracle Grow Moisture Control Potting Soil… $14.47(not organic or anything, but hey, it works)

That brings us to a grand total of $51.01. It may seem like a lot, but we’ll be able to reuse this garden twice a year (spring and fall plantings) for as long as we’re in this house.

We started by drilling holes into the bottoms of the gutters for drainage. We used a regular wood drill bit. It took a second to catch, but then was like drilling butter (why anyone would do this, I’m not sure. Maybe Wisconsin butter sculptors?).

When the gutters were sufficiently holey, we slid on the hangers and wrangled the end caps into place. They have a rubber seal on the end that made them more than a little difficult to get on the gutters. We finally figured them out though and were ready to get hanging.

We didn’t actually use the hangers to hang the gutters. That would be too obvious (and you know how we feel about obvious around the LH). Instead, we used super short (ie. 1/2″) wood screws to hang them. We used the shorter screws to that we wouldn’t end up with a bunch of screws sticking out the back of the fence on our neighbor’s side (Hi Haven!). We put five screws in per gutter, evenly spaced.

Please excuse the blurriness in that picture. I was holding the gutter for Kevin while taking the picture. Pretty talented if you ask me, considering how clumsy I am.

One 64-qt bag of potting soil was just enough to fill the three gutters. Of course, we knew before hand it would be. Being the engi-nerds we are, we calculated the volume of the gutters before buying the soil so we’d have enough. To make adding the soil easier, we poured from the big bag into a smaller one. Not the most elegant solution, but it was better than doing it one handful at a time.

We planted spinach in the top and bottom gutters (we like spinach… in salads… sauteed with garlic… mixed with ricotta and stuffed into giant shells). In the middle gutter, we planted half mescalin, a lettuce mix, and half green onions. We’ll be able to get veggies out of these gutter gardens probably until mid-to-late June, when the Texas sun will fry any baby greens we’ve got growing. We’ll be able to plant again in October, though, and enjoy until the first frost in December.

We’ve yet to see any seedlings yet, but we’re supposed to get a good weekend of rain (followed by more glorious, warm sunshine) so we expect to see them early next week. Since we finished the gutter gardens, we’ve started building our raised garden bed just below. It’s about half finished and we hope to be able to share it next week.

Indiana Beals approves this message (and notes that the fence needs to be restained).

Have you started gardening for this year? What do you want to plant (or would you plant if you had a garden)?  I really want to try growing some heirloom veggies in our raised bed. Any suggestions?

26 comments

  1. Melanie @ Mailbox Journey says:

    What I would do for a garden….

    Yours looks great! & I don’t think it was a bad price either.

    You’re making me so jealous right now though! I only have 1 window that gets sunlight in the apartment, so I planted some flowers in a pot, and placed it there – They are really starting to bloom! 😀

    • littlehousebigheart says:

      It’s an 8′ privacy fence that runs around our entire backyard. It is huge! It’s nice though, because we don’t have random people ogling us in the backyard (that is, if we were ogle-worthy).

  2. Kim S says:

    Two things I took away from this post…first, I love your gutter garden and am inspired to make my own! I have been wanting a garden but didn’t think my yard had a good spot for one. If I can hang it on the fence though, that’s a different story! Second, do they really let dogs in your Home Depot? Do all Home Depots allow dogs?? I generally try to get away with taking my (not-at-all-small) lab/shepherd mix anywhere he is allowed, and I did not know Home Depot was an option. My husband is not going to be happy with this new bit of knowledge…he does not usually have the same feelings I do about bringing the dog everywhere we possibly can, hahaha.

    • littlehousebigheart says:

      1. I’m so glad it will be a good solution for you!

      2. Yes, they do! It says no dogs on the door, but we just walk in like we own the place (with them on a leash, of course). As long as they’re not holy terrors no one says anything.

  3. mom says:

    Ur mom is going to do this on a huge scale at the greenhouse!!! We are going to create a jungle effect using the gutters!!! Thanks, my brilliant daughter, and her faithful sidekick, Kevin!!!

  4. Mandie says:

    I planted herbs & tomatoes yesterday in an indoor-greenhouse container. I hope they make it this year – we tried starting them outside last year since we planted late, and we didn’t have any success. We really enjoyed the spaghetti squash from last year, but the vines take up a lot of space so it might not be the best option for you :(. I love the gutter garden idea!

  5. Tandra says:

    What a fabulous how-to! I love how dog friendly they are! I found your blog through the yhl comments and thought I like this one already…must be the name;-) I’m totally guilty of trying to take my 90lb fur babies to Home Depot too! You’ll have to post an update on how the crops do in this summer. Can’t wait to hear more!

    • littlehousebigheart says:

      Hi Tandra! So glad you stopped by!

      We actually had our fence repaired and restained this spring, so we had to take the gutters down for the spring planting season. We’re planning on having them back up and running for the fall season in October, though!

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