Vertical gardens combine so many great elements together. These container gardens incorporate recycling, water conservation, weed reduction, and creativity while taking up a small fraction of space. You can hang a vertical garden indoors near a sunny window, on a small balcony or terrace, or as decorative features in the backyard. Hang these vertical gardens outdoors in the summer, and move them indoors during the cooler months so that you can enjoy flowers and crops year round.
Properly hung, these bottle columns are readily accessible for anyone who would ordinarily have physical limitations that would otherwise impede traditional gardening methods.
A hanging wall of these bottles on an otherwise open, exposed porch or pergola would also create a multi-functional privacy screen, shade and provide some wind barrier.
A guide for creating a vertical garden using 2 liter soda bottles is available at the bottom of this page. It includes instructions, as well as a templates for cutting openings as well as a template for adding a decorative label. This design utilizes recycled plastic beverage bottles.
Some Vertical Garden Design Inspiration
Shown below are some vertical gardens we found online to inspire your creativity.
This container garden was designed by Willem Van Cotthem and uses plastic bottles that are stacked inside one another and secured using a small wire tied to a wire fence. The top bottle is intentionally empty so that it can be used to water each column.
windowfarms.org promotes indoor urban farming. Their system uses hydroponics. Instructions are available on their website.
We’re not sure who to credit for this design, but this vertical garden wall is a really attractive addition to a deck or patio. Each of the bottles is secured to a board and drains into the bottle beneath it. This may also be a good way to recycle a pallet. Rather than interconnecting, these bottles are cut in half and sit individually.
DIY Recycled Plastic Bottle Vertical Garden Instructions And Templates
These instructions and templates are intended for use with a standard 2 liter soda bottle, which are approximately 13 1/2 inches in diameter and 12 inches in length. The bottles are connected by passing the threaded bottle neck through a hole in the bottom of another bottle. The bottles are then secured together by screwing on the cap.
While many other columns used only one opening for the plant, this design features two opposite domed openings to allow the plant more access to grow upward and outward, as well as maintain adequate airflow.
- 3 to 4 two liter soda bottles (depending on length desired)
- A 3 bottle column is approximately 34 inches in length.
- A 4 bottle column is approximately 45 inches in length.
- Template (right click to open in new tab – then copy/save) This template should print at 5″ x 4″.
- Permanent marker
- String or monofilament line
- Box cutter (if you are not using a drill and hole saw bit)
- Nail and hammer (to punch holes in bottle cap; if not using drill and drill bit)
- Optional Tools
- These items will make cutting the bottles much easier, but they aren’t necessary
- 1 1/8 inch hole saw bit
- Soldering gun
- 1/8 drill bit
- Some decoration options
- Chalkboard or flat spray paint for labels
- Trace this template shape onto a 4×6″ or larger piece of contact paper. The template should print out to roughly 3.5″ x 2″.
If you or someone you know owns a Cricut or Silhoutte cutter, you can download these label templates here.
- Cut out the shape using xacto knife
- Place the contact paper over the desired label location
- Spray paint with chalkboard paint or or any flat spray paint
- Chalkboard or flat spray paint for labels
- Other Options:
- Spray paint to cover soil portion of bottles
- Burlap to wrap soil portion of bottles
- Acrylic crystals for string hanger
- Print and cut out 2 copies of the bottle opening template.
- Position the rounded side of the templates approximately 1 3/4 inches from the bottom (footed portion) of the bottle, and space the templates 1 3/4 inches apart from one another.
- Secure each opening template into place with a few pieces of tape and trace the templates with a permanent marker.
- Next, cut or drill a 1 1/8 inch hole in the center of the bottom of the bottle.
- Remove the thin security band (that sits just below the bottle cap) using scissors to pry them outward and snip.
- With the cap still on the bottle, punch, solder or drill several small 1/8″ holes into the cap for drainage.
- Cut out the two openings by following the lines you traced onto the bottle.
- You can start your cut using a box cutter or melt a hole in the center of the opening using a soldering gun, then finish your cuts using scissors to get cleaner edges.
- For only the 1st bottle in your column, drill or punch a small hole into each of the 5 feet (the 5 raised bumps) at the bottom of the bottle. These will be used to insert your string as hangers.
- Add any decorations or spray paint before assembling the bottles.
- Remove the bottle cap and insert the threaded neck of the bottle into the 1 1/8″ opening at the bottom of another bottle.
- Connect the two bottles by screwing the bottle cap onto the inserted neck, which extends inside the bottom of the other bottle.
- Continue this process, connecting as many bottles as you need for your vertical garden column.
- Feed your string or monofilament line through the 5 holes in your first bottle. Finished string length should be at least 12 inches or longer, depending on where the vertical bottle garden will be hung.
A few tips:
We’ve made a lot of these vertical gardens using 2 liter bottles, so here are a few tips from what we’ve learned along the way:
- Use painter’s tape to secure the templates in position. It is easier to reposition and/or remove than scotch tape.
- There is a slight ridge in the plastic near the bottom of the bottles. This is a good point of reference in positioning the templates.
- The two opening templates should be 1 3/4″ apart, which is hard to visually gauge when you are positioning the templates. We use painter’s tape to span/connect the 1 3/4″ distance between one side of the templates. The two template openings essentially become one template that we can remove and reapply to another bottle.
- It is easier to start your opening cut at the dome of the opening, which provides enough “give” to cut the rest of the opening.
- If you are using a hole saw to create the bottom opening, create a center hole using a solder gun to accept the drill bit and create a perfectly centered hole. Also, go lightly with the hole saw. It quickly eats through the plastic. If you apply too much pressure, the plastic bottle tends to twist.
- When selecting plants for the vertical garden, alternate “spiller” plants (plants that tend to overflow and hang downward) with compact “filler” plants. This allows sufficient growth space and air flow for each plant.
- Climbing plants or other plants that have a tendency to grow upward (cucumbers, tomatoes) should be planted in the bottom bottle; then support them with clips or twine as they grow up the column.
- When using the vertical gardens indoors, place a potted plant underneath the column so that any drainage waters the potted plant underneath instead of your floor.
- Plants that do really well in vertical gardens
- Herbs tend to do really well in container gardens. These include parsley, thyme, mints, rosemary, oregano, chives, and dwarf basil plants.
- For flowering plants, choose plants that have a compact or trailing growing habit. Impatiens and petunias are always a good choice. Also wishbone (Torenia) and alyssum.
- For edible plants, choose leafy lettuce varieties, spinach, dwarf peppers, everbearing strawberries, radishes, microgreens, miniature cherry tomato varieties (tiny tim, red robin).
- Taller plants such as dill and green onions should be positioned in between “filler” plants to compensate for their sparse appearance.
- Consider dedicating one bottle to oyster mushrooms. They are the fastest, easiest mushroom to grow.