Build Your Own Hanging Garden of Recycled Plastic Bottles
How to Build a Hanging Garden With Bottles
One day I was looking at my empty 2-liter plastic bottles and wondered how I could recycle it. I love gardening and decided that whatever I was going to use the bottles for had to be for something my garden.
After a while of thinking, I saw that I could use the bottles by placing them one above the other and letting the water flow through the bottles from top to bottom, also saving water in the process by doing so.
Besides saving water, I could also grow my own fresh produce within the least space possible (in the bottles). This will be practical to all garden lovers who want to utilize small spaces.
Materials for a Hanging Garden
- Twenty or more Empty 2-liter bottles
- Six 500 ml empty bottles
- Plastic tape
- 1 x 1 meter PVC 15mm pipe
- Drill with small drill bit
- Printing caps or bottle caps
- Potting soil
- Plants or seed
Collecting bottles could be a challenge, but with help from family and friends, you will have more bottles than you know what to do with in no time. You could also collect used bottles from a dump site.
Step 1: Drill Holes in the Bottles
My first challenge was to get these bottles hooked up one to another. I tried to cut a hole in the top with a knife but found it impossible. I then drilled small holes in the pattern that I wanted and then tried to cut it, but it was also not as I wanted it.
Then I remembered that I had a drill bit that drills larger holes for down lighting, so off I went to look for the tool and set it to a smaller hole size. I found the perfect fit for the bottleneck.
Drilling a hole in the bottom of a 2-liter bottle is not the easiest task I have done, but after some practice, it is not so difficult. Here is an example of the drill used in this process, although you can use whatever tools work for you.
Always remember, safety first. remember to wear the necessary protective gear for the job at hand.
Step 2: Cut Holes for Plants
I cut a hole into the side of each bottle where the plant will grow out (picture below) and also to screw the cap on. This has other advantages as well. The bottle is now also a small greenhouse and your plant can grow out of the bottle. Fewer pests will affect your plants, like cutting-worms and other insects.
It is best to first hang up the "bottle garden" before filling the bottles with potting soil, but before you do, if you have some small gravel, put that in first so that the neck of the bottle is filled with a draining medium, this will help for better drainage.
Note: Remember that when you hang your "bottle garden" that five 2-liter bottles have a huge weight and it will bend the water pipe. To avoid this problem, install an iron rod above so that it will support the weight. Fasten the water pipe to the iron rod with wire to strengthen it. Make sure that the water flows evenly from bottle to bottle simultaneously.
Step 3: Create Drainage Holes
The printer caps are a perfect fit,, but you can also use the bottle cap if you don't have printer caps. You only have to make holes in it so that the water can run out freely. In the beginning I drilled small holes all around them but then the water runs out too quickly.
Prick a few holes in the bottom and sides of the bottle cap with a sharp knife. It will ensure that the water has the correct flow. So basically, if you do not have one thing, you can use the other as a replacement.
Step 4: Screw Bottles Together
Now the next challenge was to arrange the bottles one above the other or to screw them together. The cap was too small so I needed something that I could attach between the cap and the neck of the bottle to secure it. I remembered that I had a few printer cartridge caps and went to get one.
After some trial and error, I got out the insulation tape, and give it a few turns around the bottleneck and screwed on the cap, otherwise the printer cartridge cap is too loose. It was a perfect fit and could hold the weight of the soil-filled bottles.
After some time the weight of the bottles and the wind motion made the bottles tear loose. I then took the bottles and inserted the one bottle inside the hole of the previous bottle and then replaced the cap, finding that this technique was perfect, even though the bottles have a tendency to swing.
Step 5: Hang Your Garden
Secure your PVC pipe to a horizontal pole where your bottles are going to hang from.
- I drilled a horizontal hole on either side of the top row of 2L bottles.
- In these holes, I placed the PVC pipe and drilled some small holes to carry water through my hanging garden.
- I also discovered that five is the maximum number of bottles that can be hung before the edges start to tear.
- I later changed the design because the bottles kept on tearing. We will discuss this next.
Remember to drill small holes in the pipe where the water could drip into the hanging bottle garden. Holes must be evenly spaced to fit above the hanging bottles. Secure a water source to your PVC pipe, not too strong a flow.
Alternate Way of Hanging the Bottles
I found that if you drill a horizontal hole through the bottles it will eventually tear the bottle.
I then thought of a new way by cutting a 500ml bottle and securing it with some wire onto the watering pipe. This worked better and I had no more tearing bottles.
Filling the bottles with gravel and soil.
Step 6: Fill Bottles With Soil and Gravel
- Now fill the bottles with a little gravel for drainage.
- Now fill the bottles with soil.
I like to use potting soil because it attracts less pests and has less weeds.
Using a 500 ml cut bottle, I carefully filled all my bottles with potting soil.
Step 7: Plant Your Hanging Garden
The next step was deciding what I could plant in my hanging garden. I started by planting some herbs from the garden like lavender, spearmint, lemon thyme, thyme, strawberries and chives. I also sowed some rosemary seed and later beans and cherry tomatoes.
The beans and tomatoes are my new experiments which I plant in the top bottles so that I could guide the plants over the brace, giving more weight support to these plants, also allowing them to run. I will report later with the results.
If there are any suggestions or comments, feel free to share as it could be most helpful.
Do you think you could build your own hanging garden after reading this Hub.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2012 Louis Fourie