How to Turn a Metal Gutter into a Railing Planter

Simple materials lend practical beauty to a gutter planter that's perfect for railings, porches, and patios!

Who says garden containers need be pricey? A stroll through the hardware store yields basic materials—gutters, end caps, and adhesives—to create sized- right versions of a sturdy rail planter.

This gutter or trough planter comes together in just a few steps. It's an upbeat, approachable how-to projects that rethinks the basics for a pretty purpose. We filled this planter with succulents, but any trailing plants that offer variety in texture, bloom, and foliage would work.

What You Need

  • Galvanized gutter (typically sold in 10-foot lengths, so you will need to use tin snips and wear protective gloves to cut it to size)
  • Two gutter end caps (one left, one right)
  • Rubber mallet
  • Pliers
  • Construction adhesive
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Wood screws
  • Potting soil
  • Pumice
  • Mixed succulents in 4-inch pots

Step 1: Install End Caps

Once you have measured and cut the gutter to your preferred length, add end caps. Fit right and left end caps to their respective ends of the gutter and tap securely into place with a rubber mallet. Use pliers to pinch end cap edges securely over the gutter edges. Following package instructions, apply heavy-duty construction adhesive along the inside seams where the end caps and gutter meet. Let the glue set.

Tip: Wear protective gloves when working with the metal and its sharp edges.

Step 2: Drill Holes

Drill holes every 4 inches along the bottom of the gutter for drainage. Drill mounting holes at the top back of the gutter: one at each end, and an additional hole every 12 inches. Holding the gutter in position, mark mounting points on the deck railing; drill pilot holes. Securely fasten the gutter to the railing with wood screws.

Step 3: Plant & Water

Mix 2 parts potting soil and 1 part pumice together in a bucket. Fill the mounted gutter with this lightweight, well-draining planting mix. Remove plants from their pots, loosen the root balls, and plant in gutter. Fill gaps with small divisions of groundcover sedums and hens-and-chicks to create a solid tapestry of shapes, colors, and textures. Water the finished planting to settle roots and soil.


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