Introduction: How to Use Gutters to Dress Up Your Fence
Wooden privacy fences are functional, but boring. Unlike wrought iron or other types of fencing, wooden fences offer little aesthetic value by themselves, so many homeowners try to dress them up. Here's a nifty idea: use standard aluminum gutters to turn your dull fence into a beautiful and productive gutter garden!
Lots of flora will grow nicely in the shallow troughs of gutters. Small-root plants, annuals, and vines will flourish nicely. Various herbs like thyme, basil, sage, peppermint, and spearmint are also popular choices for gutter gardens. Or you can grow your own produce such as strawberries, lettuce, spinach, radishes, and onions.
Here's a step-by-step process on dressing up your fence with gutter gardens:
1. Measure the length of the fence sections that you will be using. Determine whether you will have more than one gutter garden on each section of fence. If you have dogs or other animals, you may want to avoid low-hanging gutter gardens. If you have kids who want to help tend them, make sure they are within reach of a child's hands. If you have decreased mobility, place them at about chest height.
2. Buy or acquire the guttering to fit the spaces where you want your gardens. Aluminum gutters usually come in ten-foot sections, so be prepared to cut them to fit your fence if necessary. Also, be sure to acquire enough end caps for each gutter garden.
3. Punch or drill a series of holes in the bottoms of the gutter sections about four inches apart from each other. This will allow water to drain out of the gutters and prevent root rot.
4. Paint the gutters whatever color(s) you desire. After thoroughly cleaning the outside of each gutter section, apply a coat of oil-based primer before decorating with a fully acrylic paint.
5. There are several ways to hang the gutter sections on your fence. You can fasten hooks or nails into the fence and hang chains from them which can hook to each gutter section (though more holes will have to be drilled). You can screw in the gutter sections directly to the fence. Or you can nail or screw wooden boards to the fence (using the studs for anchors) and then fasten the gutters to these boards in order to get extra stability. Be sure to use at least half a dozen screws per ten-foot gutter section.
6. Attach gutter hangers or U-clips to the tops of the gutters to keep them from sagging forward when soil is put into them. Use four or five of these fasteners per ten-foot gutter section.
7. Screw the end caps onto the ends of each gutter section.
8. Fill each gutter section with vegetable potting soil to within about two centimeters of the top. Pack the soil down tightly.
9. Run a chop stick or trowel down the length of each gutter to create a "trench" that's between a half and one inch deep.
10. Sprinkle seeds of your plants or produce into the trench and space them according to the directions on the package (usually about 2 1/2 centimeters between each seed).
11. Water frequently and fertilize occasionally.
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