A downspout planter box serves a couple of purposes. It acts like a small rain garden. It also makes the area around a downspout more attractive. One, the other, or both are great reasons to create a downspout container garden with the right native plants.
Benefits of Putting a Container at a Downspout
Under a rain gutter, containers with native plants catch runoff from the eaves and roof of your home. They filter the water and slowly release it back into the ground where it re-enters the groundwater system or aquifer.
If you do it right, this is like a miniature rain garden, which traditionally goes in a depression in your yard that collects rainwater. By allowing the water to slowly filter through the garden or container, it enters the groundwater cleaner. This also helps prevent erosion from fast draining stormwater. Of course, it also beautifies the otherwise plain area around a downspout.
Ideas for Downspout Garden Planters
It’s easy to get creative with a downspout container garden. Just make sure you have a few necessary elements. The container should have drainage holes in the bottom and on the sides or near the top for overflow.
Next comes a layer of gravel and on top of that goes a soil mix designed for a rain garden, usually with some sand in it. It’s better to use plants suitable for a lot of rainwater, such as with a bog garden design, but with a good drainage plan, you can include other plants too.
Here are some ideas for constructing a downspout garden with these essentials in mind:
- Use an old wine barrel to create a planter. It allows plenty of room for gravel and drainage soil. You can even put a drainage spout on the side.
- A galvanized steel tub also makes a good planter. Repurpose an antique or look for a new one. They come in smaller sizes but are also as large as a horse trough.
- Build a container of your own design using scrap wood or old wooden pallets.
- With some scaffolding, you can create a vertical garden that runs up the side of the house and is watered by the downspout.
- Create a rock garden or stream bed under your downspout. You don’t need plants to filter the water, a bed of rocks and gravel will have a similar effect. Use river stones and decorative elements to make it attractive.
- You can also get creative and grow veggies in a downspout planting bed. Just be sure to provide adequate drainage for this type of garden.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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