Small vegetable gardens are a challenge, but this DIY vertical grow tower can help you get the most out of your space! Make this vertical garden tower from recycled PVC pipe and grow 17 plants in a single square foot.
Need to stretch your gardening space?
We’ve all heard about going vertical, but here’s another way to take your garden to new heights: A vertical garden tower.
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This grow tower uses less than one square foot of ground space and supports seventeen plants.
I did this experimentally last year, planting basil and bok choy in my DIY garden tower.
The basil got a bit leggy after several months, but I think that’s my fault for being a little lax in caring for the tower. The bok choy worked beautifully.
How to make a vertical grow tower
This simple vertical garden tower allows you to grow 17 plants in one square foot of space.
- PVC pipe – 8” diameter by 4’ long
- PVC pipe – 2” diameter by 4’long
- Electric drill
- 1-1/2″ hole saw for electric drill
- ¼” drill bit
- Tape measure
- Potting soil
- 16 Pieces of recycled cardboard, roughly 2” square
- 17 Seedlings of lettuce and mixed greens
1. Mark four evenly spaced lines vertically on the pipe.
2. Mark a line around the circumference of the pipe, 12” from one end. This will be the bottom of the planter.
3. Using the hole saw, drill two holes opposite each other at the intersection of the vertical and horizontal lines.
4. Drill three more holes along the same vertical lines, evenly spaced. You now have two lines of four drilled holes.
5. To stagger planting holes, measure about 15” up from the bottom and mark the two remaining vertical lines. Drill a hole at each mark.
6. Drill three more holes along the remaining vertical lines, evenly spaced.
7. To use in the garden: Dig a 12″ deep hole in the ground and bury the bottom of the pipe.
8. To use on a patio or balcony, fill a 5-gallon bucket halfway with cinder. Place the pipe on top of the cinder and add soil up to the top of the bucket.
9. Drill about 30 ¼” holes in the 2” PVC. Center it inside the 8” PVC for deep watering.
10. Fill the inside of the pipe with potting soil up to the bottom of the lowest holes.
11. Slide a seedling into each of these holes, place a piece of cardboard gently over the hole to prevent potting soil from escaping, and add more soil to reach the next set of holes. Continue in this manner until each hole is planted.
12. Add one more plant in the top of the vertical grow tower.
Does this vertical garden tower work?
The photo at the bottom right in the collage was taken about two weeks after the tower was completed. During a rainstorm. Through a window. No, I won’t win any photography prizes with these images, but I think you get the gist.
One thing I’d do differently: I’d add a length of 2″ pvc, drilled with holes to the center of the tower for easier, more efficient watering. If you try it, I’d love to hear how it works for you.
Is the PVC safe?
*Yes, it’s plastic, but it was diverted from the landfill.
Is pvc safe to plant in for health reasons? I dunno. I don’t know if pvc will leach chemicals into the soil, or if the plants will uptake them if they do.
Certainly, given the choice between a pvc garden tower to grow in or a large, flat piece of sunny space, I’d choose the sunny space.
But until I have that, I’ll continue experimenting!
Don’t have time to build your own garden tower?
If you love the idea of growing vertically, but just don’t have the time or inclination to build a grow tower of your own, there’s a ready-made option for you right here.
It will take up a little bit more space, but it’s still a great way to get growing if you’re limited on garden space!