Overcoming the challenge of gardening in a rental
I have several gardening challenges I’m trying to overcome. First, we are living in a rental right now and they are not really keen on us digging up the grass area.
I find this curious because I think that having a few garden boxes would definitely increase the value of a yard. I will keep trying. In the meantime container gardening is my friend.
The other challenge can be my daughter’s dogs – they like to dig, so even if I could get approval to put in raised beds, the dogs would get to them in an instant.
I’m still searching for more solutions, but here’s the first thing I’m going to try. I’m putting up a gutter garden on the fence. It was easy to do – we did it in about 30 minutes. When the time comes to move to our permanent home, it will also be easy to remove.
Costing materials at the local Home Depot = $33.90 – You will need:
-2 – 10-foot aluminum gutters
-4 end caps (2 right & 2 Left)
-4 special hanging screws
-Drill and drill bit, screw
-A small tube of glue or putty to secure the ends
-Potting soil or compost
I chose the east facing fence because I’m living in Texas and the afternoon sun can be intense. The east facing fence will get full sun until about 2 pm, and then it will be in the shade. This will give me at least 7 hours of sun in the winter and hopefully shade the garden in the hot summer months. I’m concerned that it will get too hot in the afternoon and that I will have a hard time keeping it watered during the hottest part of the day.
If I was still living in a colder climate I would probably choose the west facing fence to maximize the warmth of the afternoon sun.
1. Make sure you have sturdy fence posts between 6 ft and 8 ft apart. You do not want your fasteners at the exact ends of the gutters. They will be placed on the fence at an angle so excessive water will drain out.
2. Drill a few holes in the lower ending edge of the gutter. I made my top gutter drain into the one below. The bottom gutter will eventually drain into a watering can or bucket.
3. Place the end caps on each gutter section and use the glue or putty to secure them. The glue was an afterthought for us, but the end caps tended to pop off without it, so I had to add it after the gutters were hanging.
4. Use the special gutter fasteners and hang them at a slight angle so the water will drain. That’s it! You have gutter gardens ready for planting.
5. I saved some pecan shells from our harvest earlier in the month, so I added those to the bottom of the gutter. I think it will help with drainage. It may not really be necessary here in Texas, but it certainly would be if I were living in a wetter climate. You don’t want your plant roots to get waterlogged.
Next, I added bags of Organic Potting Soil (affiliate link). Each gutter took a 50-quart bag. Use the lightest soil you can find. If you are concerned about moisture retention, add a bit of peat moss too.
What can you plant in a gutter garden? Anything that you can grow in a 4-inch pot.
- Lettuce, Salad Greens and Asian Greens
- Spinach and Mustard
- Radish and other small root vegetables like carrots or beets
- Snap peas
- Chives, Garlic and Bunching Onions
- Mint (be sure and contain it or expect a full gutter full)
- Marjoram and Thyme
For under $50 I have created a functional but removable garden that I’m very pleased with. I can’t wait for the bare root strawberry starts to arrive, they are going to be planted in the top gutter garden. The bottom is already filled with snap peas, radish starts, and leaf lettuce. I will update picture later in the season.
Have you had success growing in small spaces? Share your ideas in the comments section below.