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A friend is building his house (in a subtropical urban environment), an is endeavouring to make it as sustainable and practical as possible. In our chat, it occurred to me that the guttering around the edge of a roof could potentially be means of hydroponically growing plants, particularly fruit bearing varieties.

This leads me to my question - what are practical and sustainable methods for using the guttering of a house to hydroponically grow produce?

Additionally, what other potential benefits and risks would there be in such a project?

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    PVC, a common material for guttering, is not an environmentally friendly material, if I understand correctly, though this is clearly disputed by the industry that makes it (pvc.org/en/p/sustainability). Perhaps some other materials used for guttering are ok though? – Highly Irregular Feb 24 '14 at 2:38
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    Perhaps edit in to ask about risks as well? If there's a dry season or any fire risk this could be problematic. The danger in accessing the guttering could be high, and the risk of the plants growing into or onto the roof would need careful management. – Móż Feb 26 '14 at 2:54
  • I don't know how your friend's roof looks like. Depending on its shape, it may be possible to consider looking into turning it into a green roof. The guttering in itself is extremely small, I doubt that it would have much impact by itself. A 'sustainable' thing to do is to store the water that runs off from the roof and use it for gardening/low quality water purposes. – Voreno Mar 18 '14 at 21:21
  • The gutter is there to remove the water from the roof so it doesn't flow into the ceiling. Deliberately keeping the water in the gutter, will increase the risk for water flowing into the ceiling space, collapsing the ceilings. It is better to capture the water from the downpipes into IBCs and then use the IBC as a hydroponic container. – Jason Pascoe Jun 9 '14 at 12:30
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I would recommend building a rainwater collection system (http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Rainwater-Collection-System) that feeds into a ground level hydroponic garden system. This will be easier to access and maintain, and will run no risk of flooding the house in the event of actual gutter clogs.

This setup lets you use any sort of hydroponic system you want using the rain barrel as your water supply. Don't grow plants in your gutter on your roof... grow them in gutters that are easy to reach, but are fed by free rainwater.

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