Make seedling planters from re-cycled PVC guttering.

Posted in Gardening Tips, how to features, recycling re-using projects on February 2nd, 2014 by John Coxon

f(Click on any image to see a larger view)

My good neighbour Sam and his business partner Anthony of EJ Building & Roofing both know I love to recycle and make things from a wide range of discarded material and they have been very generous giving me off-cuts of roofing felt, roofing laths and more recently some lengths of deep guttering, all of which otherwise they would have to throw away . Roofing lath is usually treated rough sawn 2” x 2” and so versatile . Because they generate and supply me with more than I can use for my various projects, I also cut surplus into log lengths as  we have a wood burning open fire in our front room. I have used the deep guttering off-cuts  to make a number of seed planters for windowsills and for use in my greenhouse. I have used them rather like shelves to hold growing medium or as troughs which simply sit on any flat surface.

The technique is to carefully cut them to the length you need and make wooden internal end stops to create a deep trough for potting compost. The off-cuts I was given were brand new but be extra careful if the guttering you are using has been used because all plastics become brittle through constant exposure to the UVA in sunlight so liable to crack and break if you don’t saw them to length carefully.

To make the stops you simply use a pencil to draw the profile of the gutter onto a scrap of soft wood using a hand held jigsaw.

gMark out using gutter end as template & cut out with jigsaw

Once cut and the edges smoothed with glass paper I drilled three pilot holes through the PVC gutter edge and used screws to hold them in place  , one for each side and one for underneath. It doesn’t matter if the stops are not a perfect fit and no need to seal them in using silicone because you need the compost to be able to drain.

eEnd stops screwed in place


Once the stops are in place you can add two rectangular off-cuts, one either end so that the finished planter is stable.

cScrew rectangles to each end to stabilise planter

I have made one such planter to fit  the awkward space next to the glazed door of my greenhouse trimming one end at an angle to  allow the door to open and close and one of the end stops moved back a couple of inches to accommodate.

dshelf type version (cut at angle one end to accommodate door swing)

Why not check out how to make more substantial planters and window boxes using a simple construction method  with, for example  decking board- ideal as it is treated , generally better quality wood than pine planking and often guaranteed for ten years. Here is a link to that and other planter ideas

Ideas for Making Planters and Window Boxes from Decking boards and other materials.


Posted in Gardening Tips, how to features, recycling re-using projects on February 2nd, 2014 by John Coxon

Many people understand the various merits  of collecting rainwater for their gardens as  valuable but also environmentally green thing to do but, if you have installed a water butt on your patch there is a danger that , after a while , the stagnant  water within it may become  very smelly and at a point where it is very unwise to use it to  water any of  your precious plants.

What conditions make  the water in your butt smell so bad?

Invariably the awful smell is caused by the decomposition of  vegetable matter like dead leaves and algae spores getting into the water via your guttering and downpipe and rotting, making the water stink.  Water butts should be covered anyway with a lid but you need to prevent unwanted vegetable materials getting in there too. I had this problem last year and until I sought expert advice thought it was OK to use what actually has to be seen as polluted water unfit for plant watering.

How to put it right

If the water in your butt smells firstly empty and thoroughly clean the inside of your butt with warm soapy water then rinse with clean cold water. Next you need to find a way of filtering water coming from the guttering to the down pipe so the debris doesn’t find its way in.

(Click on any image to see it a larger size )


Checking down pipe with gauze is tight fit to gutter

I recently replaced my greenhouse/ workshop  guttering and used an off-cut of  40mm PVC piping for the down pipe. I used a 40 mm hole saw to cut a hole in the bottom of the gutter but put gauze , held in place by and elastic band,  over the pipe end and then pushed the pipe into the gutter from below.


40mm whole cutter drill attachment   (white ) & gauze filter in place

Despite the fact that the hole was cut precisely to the correct diameter of the downpipe , there was no problem pushing the gauze covered pipe end into the hole. I used a broken small pond net butyou could use tight weave material from, for example  a pair of old tights. (Alternatively you could perhaps  use a fine meshed plastic tea strainer if you can work out a  way of fixing it in place.)


Guttering with downpipe showing gauze filter in place


40mm hole in butt lid cut to ensure really tight fit

Once installed you will have to check your guttering periodically to clear any debris and also remove any over your make-shift  filter to make sure it remains un-clogged. I have seen advice too about suspending a quantity of charcoal in the leg of a pair of tights to act as an additional filter ( just as charcoal is used in aquarium water filters) BBQ charcoal is handy for that. This idea is one I intend to try if my improvised gauze filter alone doesn’t have the desired effect. Overflow ? I tend to keep things I find and therefore have saved a number of concertina flexible washing machine water pipes and thus have been able to direct my water butt overflow into my greenhouse where I have a large open cylindrical container. This makes it easy and quick to fill a watering can by simply dipping it into the container rather than drawing water from outside via the water cock at the base of the butt.


flexible overflow pipe- ex old washing machine  waste pipe

Footnote : I built my greenhouse/workshop entirely from reclaimed materials including a number of exterior glazed doors and literally found lengths of brown square profile PVC  guttering discarded near my home. I had to buy the connecting bracket to join two pieces effectively but made an end stop from an off-cut of wood. 3

Marking out end stop on scrap of pine

  I simply placed the open profile of the gutter over the wood, drew along the internal edge of the gutter end, but it out accurately and screwed it in place. I used waterproof silicone sealant on the inside where the wood edges met the guttering as shown in the photo here. (To cut the wood I used a very fine toothed saw so the cut  edges were smoother and therefore less porous ) I pre-drilled the holes for the screws to prevent the PVC guttering cracking when the screws were driven in. DSC_1246

Wooden internal gutter end stop screwed in place


Sealing end stop using silicone gun

Coming next – Find out how to make seedling planters from re-cycled off cuts of guttering by clicking on this link.  See also via this link how to make simple planters using decking board and a very simple box construction technique.

Ideas for Making Planters and Window Boxes from Decking boards and other materials.

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