The Culvert Pipe Planter

I know I’ve blogged about this topic in the past.  However, this “revisit” of the topic showcases some more recent uses (and photos) of these “industrial style”, vertical planting opportunities.  It’s important to mention that our reason for using this was not only to showcase plants growing out of them but to feature the culvert pipes themselves.  The galvanized, corrugated metal pipes have a neat look to them and will offer years of interest.  You’ll see some fun colors utilized each year and we move them to different locations annually (and sometimes skip a year of use too!).  We’ve used both spray paint and outdoor acrylic paint (over primer) and these layers have stuck pretty well and lasted the season.  Securing the pipes in an upright fashion simply involves digging a 3′ deep hole slightly larger than the diameter of the pipe and tamping the soil around the pipe once it’s placed and leveled.  We don’t fill these entire culverts with soil.  We have installed rebar rod across the opening at about 3′ from the top of the pipe.  That “X” of support allows us to insert garbage cans or other containers in to the culvert pipe.  These “inserts” have their own drainage and soil preparations so are essentially containers secured within in a culvert pipe container.  We select the interior, supported container to just barely fit and ultimately to provide the most soil volume as possible.  Access to watering can be tricky so keep that in mind with placement but the vertical contribution is quite strong with these.  Our soils in these planters are composed of 2/3 “soil-less” mix with 1/3 compost.  We also incorporate slow-release fertilizer throughout this soil volume.  The top of a culvert pipe planter can be quite sharp and plants overhanging these metal edges can be damaged or severed with even moderate winds.  We started securing foam pipe insulation over the top…securing it with glue and painting it the same color as the pipe.  This cushion worked great for having plants cascade over the top!  We have six 18″ diameter culvert pipes which are about 9′ tall (3′ underground and 6′ above…) and also five 24″ diameter culvert pipes which are about 12′ tall (3′ underground and 9′ above…).  They have been fun to work with and we enjoy using them out in the gardens.  They’ll have a long future here for sure!

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