A Guide to Making a Plastic Bottle Vertical Garden

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Have you been wanting to try your hand at gardening, but don’t think you have enough space? Are you keen to find a creative way to recycle your drinking bottles? If so, making a plastic bottle vertical garden might be the option for you.

A bottle vertical garden grows upwards, rather than across the ground, on a structure such as a fence or a lattice. Plastic bottles are tied to the vertical structure using rope or twine and are cut in a way that allows soil and seedlings to be planted inside.

This innovative gardening technique is inexpensive, fairly easy, and a brilliant way to develop a new creative hobby. If you’re interested in starting your own plastic bottle vertical garden, keep reading to find out where to start.

Things to Consider Before Building Your Plastic Bottle Vertical Garden

Building a vertical garden using plastic bottles requires some preparation beforehand. There are a few concerns that you must address before you begin the building process.

Think About the Location of Your Garden

All plants need access to sunlight, but it is important to find the right balance. Since your plants will be in plastic bottles, they are at risk of overheating in particularly hot conditions. If possible, you should make sure that your bottle vertical garden gets enough sunlight to thrive, but is not going to overheat and kill your plants.

You will also have to consider if your plants will need protection from other harsh weather conditions, such as snow or strong winds.

Check if Your Plastic Bottle Vertical Garden Will Cause Damage or Disruption

If you choose to build a bottle vertical garden, it will likely utilise a water run-off system (explained in the “Maintaining your Plastic Bottle Vertical Garden” section of the article). Before setting this up, you need to ensure that it will not cause any problems with your neighbours.

One of your first precautions should be to speak with your neighbours to let them know of your plans and ask them if a water run-off system would cause problems in their garden.

Additionally, think about whether the constant water supply will cause damage to your or your neighbours’ property.

Consider Which Plants Will Work Best in Your Plastic Bottle Vertical Garden

The base of your garden will determine which plants will be most suitable.

If you are planning to use a concrete wall in your garden, you will have much more choice in what plants you can grow. However, if it is a less sturdy structure such as a lattice, you are safest sticking to herbs and other lightweight plants. This will help ensure that your vertical garden remains sturdy and secure throughout the growing process.

By taking these precautions beforehand, you will undoubtedly get the most out of your plastic bottle vertical garden.

A Complete Guide to Building Your Plastic Bottle Vertical Garden

So you’ve taken the proper precautions, and now you’re ready to begin the process of building your vertical garden. The most important instructions to make your plastic bottle vertical garden are:

  • Gather your supplies
  • Prepare the bottles
  • Add the soil/seedlings
  • Hang them on your vertical structure

Follow these easy steps, and you are guaranteed to create a functional yet beautiful home for your new plants.

Gather Your Supplies

The stuff you will need for making your vertical garden is cheap, easy to find, and often already present in the home.

Plastic Bottles

These will soon become the incubators for your plants, and the good news is that you probably already have plenty of them ready for recycling. Soda bottles are perfect for this, particularly the 2L-4L bottles, which will hold more seedlings.

The bottles you use should ideally be clear, as these will let the maximum amount of sunlight through to your plants. Just make sure that they are empty and thoroughly cleaned before they’re used.

Soil

If you choose to, you can buy some potting soil, but it usually isn’t necessary. Often it will be enough to simply use garden soil, which is good news for those on a budget.

Seedlings

As previously mentioned, it’s important to consider which plants will be most suitable for your vertical garden. As a general rule,  it’s best to choose plants that have shallow roots, as they will require less soil.  If you’re unsure, this website outlines some great ideas for what to plant in a plastic bottle vertical garden.

Scissors

You will need scissors to cut a section from your bottles, so that you can insert the soil and seedlings with ease. Additionally, a sharp object such as a pin is ideal for poking holes in your bottle (the purpose for this is explained in the next section).

Rope or Twine

This will be used to tie the bottles to your vertical structure.

Prepare the Bottles

Firstly, you should remove any labels on the bottles so that they do not interfere with plant growth.

Using your scissors, cut a length-wise section out of the side of the bottle – this will be where the soil is inserted and where the plants will grow out of, so use your own judgement on the size.

You should use the sharp object to poke a number of holes in the bottle. These will be to feed the rope through so that you can hang your bottle on the vertical structure. You should also add additional holes for water drainage, so your plants don’t get waterlogged.

If you need a visual aid to help you, this video (4:15) documents the process of preparing your garden bottles in an easy-to-digest manner.

Add the Soil/Seedlings

This is easy; simply do so as if you were using a normal plant pot. It will usually be enough to fill the bottle about halfway, but you should ensure that the soil is at least one inch thick.

Hang the Bottles on Your Vertical Structure

You’re finally ready to hang your bottles! Depending on the base of your structure, this process may differ slightly. For example, if you’re using a fence, you can simply tie the rope through its slats. If you’re building on a concrete wall, however, you may need to install hooks.

Just remember to tie a knot in the rope on each side of the bottle, to stop it from sliding down.

Once you have one bottle complete, you can continue to add onto your vertical garden using more rope – as long as you leave enough space in between for plants to grow. With a bit of determination, you could have a full vertical garden set up in a single day!

Maintaining Your Plastic Bottle Vertical Garden

The effort you put into looking after your vertical garden will ultimately determine its success. To properly maintain your new build, the following steps are recommended:

Keep Your Plants Watered

This is where the “water run-off system” comes in. By poking extra holes at the bottom of your bottles, you have created a system whereby you’ll only have to water the top row of plants, and the water will infiltrate to the bottles below.

How often you should water your plants can be a process of trial and error. However, watering them twice a day is generally recommended.

Check How Your Plants are Growing

Like in a standard garden, your plants may outgrow their homes, at which point they will need to be transferred to a larger bottle or pot. You must keep an eye on your plants so that you can change their location immediately if they’re growing too big.

Depending on the weather conditions, your plants may not always thrive. If you see that they are not growing as they should, consider investing in some fertiliser.

Watch Out For Pests

These are less common in vertical gardens, but undoubtedly still a concern. Most types of pests can be treated but, to avoid damage to your plants, it is best to prevent them by continually checking for their presence in your vertical garden.

If you establish a good maintenance routine, your vertical garden will return the favour by gifting you with beautiful greenery.

Conclusion

Vertical gardening does not have to be expensive, especially if you use recycled plastic bottles. During the various lockdowns of COVID, many have had more spare time to work on crafts and hobbies, and there has never been a better time to begin making a plastic bottle vertical garden. With this handy guide, you now know everything you could possibly need to get started.

Sources

Green Thumb Central, Which Plants Can Be Grown in Plastic Bottles? The 8 Best! – https://greenthumb-central.com/which-plants-can-be-grown-in-plastic-bottles-the-8-best/

Youtube video – https://youtu.be/FURr85hoaZ0