Introduction: DIY Vertical Window Garden

About: Valencia Horticulture graduate, master tinker of all things, and madd scientist.
Love gardening or just curious about it? Want to grow your own food but don't think you have the space?

Well chances are you do have the space, you just need to think vertically. Grab a drill and some empty soda bottles because I'm going to show you how to build your very own vertical window garden.


I am a graduate from the Valencia Horticulture program, prior to that I welded and served as a mechanic for many years. My keen sense for tinkering and love for plants drives me to build sustainable, and affordable constructs that the everyday person can benefit from.

Welcome to the guide enjoy

Step 1: Choose Your Location

When choosing a location for your vertical garden you must take into consideration a couple of factors. The most important being sunlight, the amount of sunlight coming through the average window is about 10-20% filtered. This puts our little photosynthetic solar panels (leaves) at a disadvantage from the start. Ensure that you have an East or West facing window that can receive adequate sunlight.

Other variables to consider are, keeping it out of reach from animals and children. Although these fixtures are sturdy, they by no means are baby or puppy proof.

Once your area has been selected now we may begin gathering our materials.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

Here is a comprehensive list of everything required to complete this project.

1). Empty 2L bottles
2). 1/8 drill bit
3). 1 1/8 drill bit
4). Box cutter
5). Power drill
6). Fine scissors
7). Mounting brackets (optional)
8). Piece of cardboard.

Step 3: Laying the Ground Work

The piece of cardboard, or material that you choose should be flexible, and thick enough to trace an outline around it.

Place your cardboard over the empty 2L bottle, with your opposite hand trace around the piece. Once completed your bottle should look like the second picture.

Please note that the size of the opening is totally up to you, with respect to the rigidity of the bottles themselves, as cutting a large hole will compromise the integrity of the bottle.

Step 4: Getting Some Air

After laying out the area that you will be cutting take your box cutter and cut an "X" into the center of your outline. The "X" will allow you to slide a sharp pair of scissors into the hole and cut your square out neatly and uniformly.

With caution cut to the farthest edge of your square. Repeat for all four sides. Gently pull back on the plastic and complete your cut across. In the end you should be left with a clean and uniform opening on your 2L bottle.

Repeat for the opposite side. Please take caution if you decide to use a box cutter for this step, remember to cut away from your body and, keep hands free and clear from the trajectory path of the blade.

Step 5: Making Holes

Using a 1/8 drill bit make a small pilot hole at the bottom of your 2L bottle, this will make inserting the tip of the 1 1/8 bit into the bottle much easier. Using your drill insert your 1 1/8 bit into your pilot hole, slowly drill until the tip catches. Stop, back the drill off slightly and then put it in gear and drill out your hole. Your end product should reflect the first picture.

Once your bottom hole is drilled take your bottle cap and 1/8 bit, drill a small hole through the center of the cap. This will allow the water to drain from chamber to chamber via gravity.

Please note when using the 1 1/8 bit, this bit is made for drilling holes in wood not plastic bottles. Keep a tight grip on the bottle and use common sense if it looks unsafe then it probably is.

Step 6: The Hardest Part Is Behind Us Now

From here on the project gets easier. After drilling your holes on the bottom of your 2L bottle, slide your second bottle (bottle cap side first) through the hole you just drilled. See picture.

Now take the pre-drilled bottle cap and screw it on the bottle securing them to one another. This acts as a bulk-head and keeps the bottles locked in place. The third picture is what your final assembly should look like.

Please note, after drilling the bottom hole, sometimes some plastic residue may stay near the opening and will not allow the bottle to pass through. A nail file or pliers can clean up the opening to allow passage.

Step 7: A Little Support

This part is optional and adds a level of rigidity to your build, take your 1/8 bit and drill two smalls holes on the top bottles, this will serve as your hoisting point.

You can pick up some mounting brackets similar to the ones I used at any big box store. The brackets here came from a mounting kit designed to mount flourecent light fixtures.

I used annealed aluminum wire to anchor my vertical garden to the bracket, but in reality you can use anything. Fishing line is also a great alternative, though I wouldn't go with anything under 40lb test line.

Step 8: Catch Can

This is also another optional step, using a tea-bottle mounted at the very bottom of your garden, take your 1/8 bit and drill two small holes in it. This will allow air to be displaced as the water trickles downward.

There are three main reasons why this is a great idea and I recommend it.

1). You can accurately check the PH of your soil and nutrient content from the water leeched into the bottle.

2). You reduce waste water and can reuse it until it becomes over saturated with salts.

3). It adds a base to your garden and makes it more rigid.

Step 9: Enjoy Your Creation and Spread the Word!

Now that you are growing your own food take sometime out and talk about it with friends and neighbors. Sustainable agriculture starts with you, and who says you need expensive grow kits and fancy equipment to grow your own food.

Dorm Hacks Contest 2016

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Dorm Hacks Contest 2016