Instructables

Plastic Bottle Planter Box

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 I wanted to use all of the heavyweight plastic vitamin water bottles that our family was emptying at an astonishing rate and thought that they would provide sturdy sides for a shallow planter box.  I could plant things in a shape formed by the bottle frame and plant in the bottles as well.

Lots of things I thought would work didn't and my first go around was not 100% satisfying, but I got it to work the next time around.

My box size was 9 bottles by 7 bottles (28 bottles total) and measured about 26 inches by 22 inches.

Note that I will not be growing edibles in this box.  The combo of pre-treated wood, plastic and food.... not a good idea.

 



 
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Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies
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SUPPLIES NEEDED:

Plastic Bottles!!  Heavyweight is good.

Pen or pencil.
Paper for writing down measurements and for funneling soil into the bottles.

For Frame:
Wood -  1"x 3", two pieces as long as the length and two pieces as long as the width PLUS 1-1/2 inches.
Saw
Drill and bits (to drill pilot holes for screws)
Hardware cloth or screen (to fit size and shape of your box)
Landscape cloth or weed barrier (to fit size and shape of your box PLUS add about 2 inches all around).
Tin Snips
Scissors
Wood screws - quantity:  # of bottles x # bottles  (long enough to go through the width of your wood and penetrate at least 1/2 inch into the plastic bottle), and eight 1-1/4" wood screws to hold the sides of the frame together.
Screwdriver, a cordless power drill makes life a LOT easier.
Measuring tape and/or ruler

For Sides:
Plastic bottles all the same type.   32 (or any other even number, depending on the shape and size you choose).  
Wire cutters
Soldering iron that you don't mind messing up to make drainage holes (you can use a drill instead or heat up an ice pick)
Wire (my project used less than 50 feet).  I used 20 gauge copper because I like the patina, the slugs don't like it and I thought I had some on hand, but I didn't.
Pliers

Staple gun
Slim piece of sturdy (non corrugated) cardboard or a spatula (to tuck landscape cloth into crevices)

Potting soil appropriate for whatever you are going to plant and little stones for drainage.
Plants, seeds, cuttings...





tpyo4 years ago
Plastic in the garden….yikes!
 
The two main reasons for having a home garden is to reduce costs of produce and eat produce with less chemicals.
 
I have been following some really cleaver recycling plastic products in the garden. The projects make sense except for the issue of BPA. If you don’t know about BPA or how harmful it can be I suggest you spend the next hour in google and research the harmful effects of BPA.
 
I should also tell you; if you are American you have a 100% chance that BPA is already in your blood stream.
 
If you really want to jump start your education you should read Mercola’s story – titled “232 Toxic Chemicals found in 10 Babies” here is a fast take on it:
 
Laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group have detected bisphenol A (BPA), a plastic component and synthetic estrogen, in umbilical cord blood of American infants.
 
Nine of 10 randomly selected samples of cord blood tested positive for BPA, an industrial petrochemical.
 
BPA has been implicated in a lengthening list of serious chronic disorders, including cancer, cognitive and behavioral impairments, endocrine system disruption, reproductive and cardiovascular system abnormalities, diabetes, asthma and obesity.
 
In all, the tests found as many as 232 chemicals in the 10 newborns, all of minority descent. The cord blood study has produced hard new evidence that American children are being exposed, beginning in the womb, to complex mixtures of dangerous substances that may have lifelong consequences.
 
Are you really going to use plastic with your organic produce?
ambroglio tpyo3 years ago
The only problem with your statement is BPA is only found in plastic types 3 and 7. The ovewhelming majority of drink bottles are type one, which has no connection to BPA whatsoever. Now I'm not saying that plastic bottles don't leak out other chemicals itno whatever's inside, but BPA is not the one to be worried about.
handprints (author)  ambroglio3 years ago
Thank you for the education. Much appreciated!!
handprints (author)  tpyo4 years ago
oh!  and another good reason for having a home garden?  meditation.
handprints (author)  tpyo4 years ago

My comment re not growing edibles was hidden in Step 9.  I will bring it to the forefront because it is very important!

Thanks again!

handprints (author)  tpyo4 years ago
Though I might want to, I don't live under a rock.  I know what BPA is and of course I am not going to plant edibles in the box.  I'm using it for my succulent garden.    I was so sure that I had noted in the introduction that this was not for planting anything that you would want to eat. 

Thanks for the comment!  I will make my edit in the introduction. 
qman0074 years ago
Why not reuse the bottles with powder gatorade?  I believe to cut waste is to not buy it in the first place.  nice job on the garden though.
handprints (author)  qman0074 years ago
I agree with you 100% re not to buy in the first place.  I can change my behavior and am making baby steps with others in the household.  Refill?  Agree with you there too! and again...baby steps...thanks for the comment!
DIY-Guy4 years ago
Hi Sandy,
It looks pretty in the light I bet!
Does the cost of so many screws (one per bottle) make this more, or, less expensive than just using wood boards twice as tall? The bottles are nice for adding height, do bottles and screws make this cheaper than using two layers of boards to get the same height?

Thanks for your thoughts on this.  :)
handprints (author)  DIY-Guy4 years ago
Hi DIY-Guy!

It does kind of sparkle in the light, especially after it rains.  :)

I guess it depends on what you can get for free.  If you have to buy everything new, the screws are cheaper, based on Home Depot Hawaii prices.  You don't have to use really long screws.

If you use really wide boards, you don't really need the bottles, except perhaps for insulating (see PaleoDan's comment below)?

Narrower boards work well too.  I used 2 inch wide boards on my first try.

I didn't do the math (hmm, I could set up a spreadsheet or formula..later), but it may work out differently for different sizes and shapes.
/me smacks himself on the head!

Excuse me, I'm soooo sloooooow! Your bottles are already part of the budget and are not an "extra" expense in your household.

I am now realizing that "free" in different situations is related to the normal purchases made in the context of the home "environment" of each individual. Some people already buy those nice tough bottles, some people scrounge for wood pallets or buy new boards. Gotcha.  :)
PaleoDan4 years ago
 I like this idea very much and was wondering if you left the caps on the bottles and did not drill the holes, would it hold some heat to help warm the soil faster in the spring?  It seems like with the bottles mounted upside down they might act like little heat-sinks to warm the earth faster - maybe get a jump on the season.
handprints (author)  PaleoDan4 years ago
Hi PaleoDan!  I don't know the answer to that one.  We don't get cold weather here in Hawaii.  Try it out and see if it works!  Good luck!

I like your dinosaur head!

Sandy


Goodhart4 years ago
Wow, very nice. Much more detailed and useful then the <em>one bottle here and there</em> method I used in my garden. <div id="refHTML"> </div>
handprints (author)  Goodhart4 years ago
Hey, thanks!  though I think the randomness of the one bottle here and there would look pretty neat.  But for me, it would be an easter egg hunt and I know I'd have a rotten egg in no time.  :)
Yeah, and that would add up to an unwatered area (and possibly dead plants)
 
Kaiven4 years ago
Maybe I was in a dark closet for 14 years.... but is a planter box a portable garden? Because it looks like it's portable! :D
handprints (author)  Kaiven4 years ago
 It is portable!  and you can raise it on supports too!  I never thought about portability!!  Thank you for the idea!
Awesome! I just realized that means if there is a cold front coming, youcan move the plants somewhere where it is warmer :D
Z..4 years ago

Another ingenious idea! I'm gathering all my plastic bottles with one hand and typing with the other!

Thanks for this.

hishealer4 years ago
Very nice! Thanks, marking as best answer for sure! I bet you could paint the tops of the bottles or let the kids do that to decorate even more.
I love the idea of succulents, and they like that loose sandy soil and good drainage like I see here.  I was just told that the bottles could hold water and absorb heat during the day and prevent frost and shock at night.
handprints (author)  hishealer4 years ago
 Thanks!!  my next project will be to try to wire the bottles together somehow to make a vertical succulent garden or a wreath for christmas!
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