Introduction: Bottle Herb Garden – a Recycling Project.

Picture of Bottle Herb Garden – a Recycling Project.

Many similar ideas exist. I want to show you how to recycle 2l soda bottles and make a herb garden. The main idea here is that you water from the top and the excess water runs into the 'pot' below and so on. If you build one similar in size to mine you should be able to move it around or transport it easily. It also takes up very little space as it stands almost straight up.

Step 1: Hardware:

Picture of Hardware:

1)2l soda bottles.
2)Scrap wood, bamboo sticks, PVC or similar for frame.
3)Wood screws.

Step 2: Tools:

1)Knife to cut tops off.
2)Drill press / hand drill to drill holes through the bottle neck and to screw frame together.
4)Hand saw to cut scrap wood to size.

Step 3: Cut Soda Bottles.

Picture of Cut Soda Bottles.

Cut top of bottle off as shown.

Step 4: Drill Soda Bottles.

Picture of Drill Soda Bottles.

Drill bottle neck as shown.

Step 5: Build a Frame.

Picture of Build a Frame.

Build a frame to hold your bottles as shown in the two sketches. Note that the opening of the lower bottle must be screwed to the top bottles' neck. I have not used any measurements because you can make your own custom size. I have made a 5 column X 3 row frame. This could be made to any configuration.

Step 6: Screw Bottles on Frame.

Picture of Screw Bottles on Frame.

Screw bottles on frame.

Step 7: Stones, Potting Soil, Planting and Watering.

Picture of Stones, Potting Soil, Planting and Watering.

Put stones in the bottom of each neck for drainage. Fill with potting soil. Plant seeds or seedlings and water.
Good luck.


grannyjones (author)2016-04-05

I love the idea of duck tape. It comes in so many pretty colors.

thailemai.nadasan (author)2015-05-14

i did with a self watering wicking method using the bottom of the pet bottles as a water reservoir. its kind of cool. I drilled the bottom bottles to the wooden frame and then placed the top part of the bottle filled with the soil and seeds. this way you only need to fill the bottle as and when you need it. its really a cool idea. thanks to "bottle Herb garden", Jack.

cathydp464 (author)2015-01-08

The smaller 1/2L water and soda bottles would make a very compact herb garden to sit on a window ledge...

Wild_Bill49 (author)2013-01-31

man I just unloaded my soda bottles. Very excellent project!!

kirnex (author)2012-11-03

This is seriously one of the coolest "green" gardening ideas I've seen in a long time. I'm thinking I'm going to have to start drinking soda just so I can give this a go.

An idea for anyone not liking the raw look of the plastic bottles: hot glue some sheet moss to them. It will also help to prevent algaenation in the soil (that green growth in the soil due to light exposure).

Thanks so much for taking the time to share this!

FATHER T (author)2009-05-07

good idea, to make it better we need to block all/most light from getting to the roots to improve health and therefore harvest/flowering. Just wrap with opaque ....something. I've used duct tape in past for make shift planters.

EarthGoddess (author)FATHER T2009-05-20

how about wrapping it with scrap fabric? might look kind of cool that way. No need to buy any either ... I'm sure we all have an old sweatshirt, T-shirt, skirt or something around the house that would work. Or even a no-longer-usable sheet or tablecloth. They can all be cut to the right size and used to decorate the planters while blocking the light to the roots.

ac-dc (author)EarthGoddess2011-04-17

fabric being highly porous and holding water, will encourage fungal growth in it which is less than optimal around plants.

pravs2k (author)ac-dc2011-04-27

Isn't the fabric on the outside of the bottle? That's what I did- the decoupage on the outside.

ac-dc (author)pravs2k2011-07-21

Yes but do you water plants often? In my garden I often get some water on the outside of pots, or it tends to rain every once in a while, or a bird poops on them, animal urinates, etc etc.

My point is that ideally the surface treatment will not be porous.

pravs2k (author)ac-dc2011-07-22

The surface treatment is not porous.When you decoupage using paper or fabric it is sealed with a sealant like mod podge.Give it a couple of coats at least. If you are leaving it out in the sun, use outdoor podge. Use polyurethane after the podge coating if you want a stronger sealant .Please wait for it to dry completely between coats. It is now water proof .

As for how often I water - depends on the plant.When you feel it's drooping, leave the container in a bowl with water coming a little above the hole on the side. Water will seep in through the hole .

I did sent an instructable with pictures explaining the method but it doesn't seem to have gone thru. Will try once again.Meanwhile I hope this makes sense.Please read my comment given on April 3,2011.

DIY-Guy (author)pravs2k2012-07-20

Nice instructible, simple screw mount idea. Great!

Regarding decoupage, is polyurethane expensive to use as a coating? Would something like a soda can or other canned food can be cheaper or better in any way?

pravs2k (author)EarthGoddess2011-04-03

It's a good idea and easy too.Do you decoupage ?Here's what I did - decoupaged the bottles -with fabric and also paper napkins. Only problem is,if left out in the sun, the fabric ones fade esp. the blue ones. Recently I got some mod podge that is made specially for out doors. Haven't tried it yet .The ones inside are fine. Have had them for about six months or more and the plants are doing well .I used bright printed cotton handloom and they look beautiful.Am teaching friends how to decoupage them now - sold some too. Also Decoupaged plastic pots to match the decor .If using paper napkins be sure to seal it with podge- give it at least a couple of coats. Dont know how to send pictures- don't have a camera either!!! I'll try and get a friend to do it for me perhaps. Am sure you'll enjoy doing- all the best

lkhintonsr (author)2012-06-26

Leaving the soda label intact, spray the top of the bottle (becomes the bottom when you invert bottle) with flat black spray paint... This will solve your problem easily.

aperkins01096 (author)2011-07-14

Sweet! Excellent Instructable. Love the drain-down.

rewand324 (author)2011-06-09

i made one of these but with six 2 liter soda bottles and 3 32 ounce poweraide bottles in the middle. made out of some pieces of wood i had from a patio covering i tore down. i made L brackets out of an aluminum rod i had, by hammering it flat and bending it. I also made an a frame to support it because mine is a free standing unit for my patio.i can move it easily when need be.

Gurra (author)2010-08-29

Cool idea, but the soil in the top layers will soon loose all its nutrition because of the constant over-watering. The water will transport nutrition down to the bottom layers of bottles. It could still work in long term though if you plant plants who need less nutrition in the top and more nutrition-demanding plants in the bottom. For how long have you'r "wall" been up and running? Thanks for the instructions!

Spokehedz (author)Gurra2011-04-03

You don't just pour a ton of water in the top and let it pour down... You pour a little bit to hydrate the soil, and then the excess will drip out the bottom if there is any. My grandma, bless her zombie bones, did this for decades with no issue at all. She also did a modified tshirt trick as mentioned by 'CWW' which works very well... However, she went and sewed little 'socks' out of them so that she doesn't have a bunch of extra shirt and it would roll over the top lip of the container.

paxdonnaverde (author)Spokehedz2011-05-28

Why bother sewing socks? What a great use of old men socks, just cut to size and slip over the bottles.

ac-dc (author)Gurra2011-04-17

Plants need fertilizer anyway for best results, so you simply add more to the top pot than the rest, or use granular fertilizer which is slow to dissolve and migrate through the soil when watering.

greenguy27 (author)2009-04-09

Could you use this method for larger plants? I know that tomatoes would be too top heavy.

ac-dc (author)greenguy272011-04-17

Of course, but you needn't worry much about plants being very large or top heavy, the container is too small so they will become root bound and not grow to anywhere near their normal in-ground or in larger pot, size.

Actually the plants in this instructable are also going to be root bound, but such are the tradeoffs one makes using what containers are available and you can just use more containers for more crop yield. With some it won't matter as much, for example cilantro will bolt in only a couple weeks of warm(er) weather so you want to harvest it before that happens and changes the flavor of the leaves, meaning it doesn't get a chance to grow very large in warmer climates. It likes to grow deep roots though so ideally more of the length of the pots would be left on when cutting the bottles.

suezq (author)2010-02-15

This is a great idea to keep my strawberry plants off the ground where the slugs can't get them! Has anyone tried painting the whole thing white to reduce the heat build up in the bottles? Or has anyone had trouble with roots getting too hot? Input on how long before the bottles break down and need to be replaced due to cold winters / hot summers would be great! I will probably use a small washer on the row that has the bottle screwed to the cross beam so the plastic doesn't tear under the weight. Or does the bottle below support the weight of the one abpve it?

pravs2k (author)suezq2011-04-04

I live in a fairly hot place.The self watering containers I made more than six months ago are doing fine- both bottles and plants.I decoupaged the bottles and drilled a hole an inch from the bottom for overflow.our winters are mild so I don't know if the bottles will crack. Would love to know what happens with the strawberries - love strawberries. What I have are herbs, spider plant,money plant and mother-in-law's tongue etc.Replacing is easy- soak it ,turn it over and tap the bottle and gently ease the plant out.Replant .Do you think it would be better to use white to reflect the heat away from the roots? never thought of that.

pravs2k (author)pravs2k2011-04-04

Forgot to mention that my next project is hanging pots with two litre bottles. Similar to the ones shown in the picture, but each bottle to be slipped into a bag with a draw string gathering the bottom part round the narrow mouth of the bottle and a handle on the wide top. Plan to hang them from my balcony rail. Shall try Strawberries this time !!!Thanks for the idea

cww (author)2011-02-07

I have a similar system but to protect the roots from the sun and to help hold water in summer I use old white T shirts or similar to line the bottles. This also insulates a little in colder weather and if used carefully can be a way of lifting things out to replant or replace. If I'm away from home I poke a thin strip of fabric up through the neck of the bottle and put it in a container of water beside my rack so that the plants which need it (some don't, succulents) can soak up the water by capillary action for a few days.

cmagno (author)cww2011-02-27


chuckr44 (author)2009-01-19

Hm. I wonder if 2L bottles would work for growing single beets? You are supposed to harvest beets when they reach 3-4 inches wide.

herbieteodoro (author)chuckr442010-07-31

Good day. If you cut the bottom part of the soda bottle instead on the "waist" of the bottle, the beets will have sufficient space and soil to grow. Furthermore, the root crop will follow the shape of the bottle when harvest time comes along.

Raiqi (author)2010-05-06

 Nice work! Was just about to add another similar instuctable on this very subject - I have used old lattice floor tiles and plastic ties to fasten the bottles to the wall. I then hang the tiles with metal hooks from a wire frame. This makes them removable - in case one of the pots isn't doing so well and needs to be nursed. I can also hang the panels in groups according to waterring needs. 

I have also found that using the bottle caps instead of stones to stop the water from washing the soil out works really well too! 

I live in a major city and have a tiny space for gardening so was looking for a good method of making a vertical garden. 

THYMETOCHAT (author)2010-04-11

Super idea!  I have a wood stand left over from some wood TV trays.  It has a nice sturdy base on it so it stands up well and even has a handle on the top for ease in moving.  All I have to do is add some cross pieces and the 2 liters and I'll have my own bottle herb garden ready to plant! 

I'm thinking I'm going to try and cut the bottom off the mismatched socks I have in my laundry room and stretch them over the bottles to shade the roots.   Hopefully they won't be too tight and "squish" the bottles. 

Nice instructable!  Thanks for sharing! 

lady han (author)2009-07-29

very ingenious. i just love it. i will make one like this as our class project. thank you very much

gemgh (author)2009-06-27

Excellent idea for those bottles. Think I'll try some this weekend. Thanks for the great information. It never ceases to amaze me how many talented people post on here. I could be here for days. LOL

EarthGoddess (author)2009-05-20

I love your idea. I plan to try it if I can gather enough bottles.

AllisonSchu (author)2009-05-16

Great Idea. I have been saving up bottles and I'm going to try making one this week for my salsa garden. If it turns out I'll post some pictures.

mrshawklady (author)2009-05-08

This is the neatest idea!! And it could even be moved indoors to a small room. kool.

boocat (author)2009-05-07

This is cool. In Oregon, we have nickel deposits on the liter soda bottles, so I thought of all the unredeemable empty gallon milk jugs we generate. I took a craft knife and sliced the bottom off of one and poked drainage holes into the plastic screw lid. I will try attaching four together by the handles (duct tape perhaps?) Four together in a unit would be much harder for raccoons to knock over. I can use these to put color spots of marigolds, etc., in previously undecorated places. Thanks for the great idea!

Skoenlaper (author)2009-04-03

So it looks like in the drawings that the horizontal pieces are sort of stair stepped, but in the photos I can't see that. I am not a builder so that may be a silly question but I am interested in making this and want to do it right. Thanks

TheGoodLife (author)2009-03-26

I container grow all my vegetables. Good instructable. Five stars!

kath1966 (author)2009-03-26

thank you, today here in Australia i made your design and tomorrow will be putting in plants.....I have place it on the side of my house....right next to my kitchen door....Thanks

commteacher (author)2009-03-06

It looks like you have the horizontal pieces attached to 4X4s on the outside. Are the vertical 4X4s in the ground or some type of platform that is out of sight.? Is it free standing or leaning against the wood post in the background?

njacksx (author)commteacher2009-03-10

Its a simple frame and the plastic bottles 'warp' to the shape of the frame. It leans against the pole in the background. You could sharpen the frame and plant it in the ground or hang it or make back legs or whatever. Tx for the comment.

jamsd (author)2009-03-05

Great idea, I'm building one using fallen branches to make the frame. I picked up the cross-pieces on my walk this morning through the neighborhood off neighbor's lawns. Will be sharing your idea with our urban garden here in Detroit, it would be a good project for the kids.

phrakture (author)2009-03-04

How well would something like this work indoors with proper lights? I'm planning on using this design to grow herbs and cherry tomatoes indoors, but want to know if anyone sees obvious deficiencies that would hurt me.

SheShe (author)2009-03-01

This is so totally cool! Plus is seems like it will be a space saving idea also since your garden will vertical instead of horizontal... saves water... recycles bottles... I can hardly wait for warm weather so I can make one.

dkbokc (author)2009-02-14

I am not understanding the frame on this. Please forgive me if I seem a little dense here, from your side view it looks as if the frame is not straight backed. Please explain how you made this pyramid type angle to me. I would really like to make this project, but have to be able to tell hubby exactly how you made it. Thanks

njacksx (author)dkbokc2009-02-16

Look at step 5, the 1st picture, follow this and don't worry about my poor drawings in the other steps, they just an indication. The frame is straight and the bottles are skew and sort of bend to the frames shape.

annoyinglylogical (author)2009-02-05

also, could you do this with glass? I have much more glass bottles than soda bottles. -Spike

That is exactly it, water at the top and it then drains through to the bottom plants. The actual water delivery system can be as complicated or simple as you would like. The advantage for me is the ease of watering and the portability of the unit, plus great way to recycle battles and save water. If you can get a glass bottle cutter, you could cut the bottoms of the glass bottles off and wire them or zip tie them to the frame. The edges of the glass would have to be smoothed I would say. Also the whole unit would be quite heavy, so less portable.

annoyinglylogical (author)2009-02-05

How does this work? You have plants in the top bottles and the water drains out into the bottom bottles? If so, that is a wonderful greywater system!! Good job!