Crafty Mister II (or how to… build a plant tower)

My Mister and I came up with an idea to maximize our small gardening space we share with neighbors in our apartment building in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village: We’d grow goodies along the Y-plane, utilizing endless airspace overhead.

finished terra cotta tower using broken pot on top

But instead of buying these fancy Y-plane kits (expensive), or building raised beds from scratch (too cumbersome and permanent), we’d make some plant towers ourselves using the giant plastic pots we already have, and some basic plumbing pipes and flanges.

See what you think.

Then try it yourself. Check out your pots. Terra cotta with a giant hole are all ready. Plastic pots usually need drilling. We used 4 pots each, a 1/2-inch by 60-inch length of metal pipe (Home Depot), a 1/2 flange (ditto, in the plumbing aisle).

1/2″ flange bought in plumbing aisle

The bottom pot has to be the biggest, then 2 medium and a small one, or three medium ones. Make sure with terra cotta that the pole will fit through the drainage holes.
plastic and terra cotta towers plastic tower on left; terra cotta on right

So you put the flange, flat side down, under the bottom pot, drilling a hole in plastic if necessary. If you drill, you need the kind of bit that bores a big hole.
initial hole drilling start the hole gently, then increase it

set flange in bottom pot, flat side down set the flange into the hole, flat side facing out

Screw the pipe into the flange.
screw pipe into flange screw the pipe all the way into the flange

Weight the bottom pot with bricks or rocks or something heavy that doesn’t take up all the pot space.
weight bottom pot before filling use bricks or rocks to weight the bottom of the tower

Fill with dirt, tamp down really well, and add more dirt if necessary. This is your foundation for the tower.
bottom pot all set tamp the dirt down really well so your foundation is solid

Thread a medium pot onto the pipe, and tilt it as far to one side as you can. Fill it with dirt, tamp, etc. Thread another pot, tilt it to the other side as far as you can, fill with dirt. Repeat until you’re out of pots or out of room.
plastic tower finished plastic tower to be planted with tomatoes and peppers

That’s it. We’re now growing on four Y planes.

It’s five if you count the wooden tower I experimented with for little herbs — nothing anchoring the wooden dowel in the center except for dirt.
bury pole in bottom pot anchor the wooden dowel as best you can
thread pots one at a time, tilting them as far as they’ll go

herby little tower finished terra cotta tower of small herb pots

Cross your fingers…

    • superstarrealtor
    • June 1st, 2008

    What a great idea. My urban garden has been slowed somewhat this year by construction on my patio, but I will be planting soon, and perhaps utilizing my Y-Plane.

    • britt
    • June 2nd, 2008

    You guys are so damn clever! AND, not only functional but very artsy looking.

    • suman
    • August 27th, 2008

    awesome idea,stumbled on your site while looking for home pade plant towers. I have a lot of old plastic pots that will be put to use next year – thanks for the great idea. I have a raised bed for the larger stuff but this is a great idea for things like small peppers and herbs that I like to grow a lot of

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