The Bottle Wall Project

Although equipped with a huge and elaborated front yard, the back yard of our house is tiny. One hop, one skip, and one jump from the back door and you’re in the alley. Not a lot of opportunity for quiet reflection in the rare and precious sun of a fall or winter afternoon – especially with the fleet yard of O’Neil plumbing just off portside. The only reason this matters is that in the off-season this western exposure gets the best sun on our property.

When we moved in last fall we were pretty sure we wanted to privatize this wee space. But how? Wooden fences can be expensive and might cast too much shade. Bamboo is expensive and would take too long to grow. Brainstorming renewable/recyclable ideas, I hit on a bottle wall.

Typically bottle walls are set in concrete or cob, but our needs were special. Because the wall would be along an alley in a less than model neighbourhood, we needed to be able to replace bottles if they were broken. We also needed the wall to have a minimal footprint. And we thought it might be really nice to have light shine through.

So we started accumulating bottles. I was thinking wine bottles, but Scott thought beer would be more appropriate along the alley. Plus he wanted to call the project ’99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’. We ended up with a mixture of beer and wine.

Like the chickens and the garden and the composting fence in the front yard, the bottle wall is a conversation starter with neighbours. We like that. Some even drop bottles off for us. We’ve starting buying beer because of the beautiful bottles. And we bring home empties from parties and scavenge interesting bottles from the curb when we’re out on our bikes.

It’s hot back there now that it’s summer. Over several grueling afternoons last week, we dug down into the gravel and hardpan to make a hot plant bed. It is filled with tomatoes, and cucumbers that I hope will twine up the fence posts. We have also planted eggplant, melons, and basil in pots, and strawberries and flowers colour the corner of the house where we recently planted a combination plum tree.

From our redneck recliners, we will continue to drink our fence until it is full (feel free to drop to help!), later we’ll put an arbour atop the fence, perhaps allow hops to crawl up the alley-side… Until then, we are enjoying the new sense of privacy as we sit in the warm sun in the early evening.

Most unexpected benefit? The wall hums when the wind blows through…

Click here for further posts on the bottle wall.

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5 Responses to The Bottle Wall Project

  1. Kristen says:

    I love your wall, it is very cool. I think my neighbors might have a fit if I tried something like this though.

  2. Tobi says:

    Really neat, Jen! And I particularly like the wall's title 🙂

  3. Jen says:

    Love your bottle wall! I have already shown and informed my husband when we redo our back deck this is what I want to add for a bit a privacy from the neighbors. Thank you for sharing a beautiful and creative way of "recycling" our empty bottles.

  4. Alan says:

    LOVW the wall. We'd have to stack ours sideways (guess we drink too much…) but I'm already planning spaces to use this idea. We are also planning a cob will with wine bottles incorporated. Junk is Great!

  5. FishGirl says:

    Alan – thanks! Sideways would be good. We hadn't figured out how to keep out water by the time things froze over – major bottle shattering. Oops. We also wanted to do a cob bottle wall, but a lot of folks stumble along our alley during the wee hours on the night so we thought we'd be asking for trouble if we couldn't just replace the bottles if/when they break. Good luck with your project! Would love to see photos when you finish!

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