When my water blob post went viral last month, I received dozens of requests for a tutorial on how to make the walls-of-water that I mentioned in the post. If you haven’t used walls-of-water before, they are basically just a little greenhouse that provides insulation for your plants (I use mine on my tomatoes) when temperatures are colder than the plants would otherwise be able to survive or thrive in. The sun during the day heats the water around the plant, keeping it from freezing overnight. Once temperatures increase a little and your plant begins to outgrow the wall-of-water, it is usually removed.
Last year I used both homemade and store-bought walls-of-water in my garden. They worked equally well – they really are basically identical in size and quality. The only difference is in the color of the plastic.
So, here’s my little disclaimer – you can buy walls-of-water for less than $6 each when you get them in a 3-pack. Or, you can make your own for about $3. Once you get the process down, they take 15-20 minutes to make. Is it worth the $3 savings? I’m not really sure. If you are the DIY type, you may just enjoy the fact that you made your own – but as far as saving time and money, it might be worth it to just go with the store-bought version.
If I haven’t scared you away from making your own yet… here’s how you do it!
You will need:
- 1-yard of 54″ 12-gauge vinyl (do NOT use thicker!)
- about 3.5 feet of parchment paper
- iron/ironing board
- ruler & pen
First, fold your parchment paper in half, hamburger style.
Draw a line down the length of the center, then two more lines on either side 3″ apart. Then, mark another line about 16″ from the fold. These lines will be your template on where you will fuse your plastic together.
Next, take your vinyl and lay it out flat.
Then, carefully fold in half along the length (so that it is 18″ wide, 54″ long). I secured mine with a bit of tape, but that is totally optional, it will cling to itself pretty well.
Then, you are going to lay out your plastic (shown in grey) and align your parchment with the end. The plastic should be sandwiched in between the parchment – so that it will not melt onto your iron or ironing board when you heat it. The folds of both the vinyl and parchment will align at the bottom, and the end of the plastic should overlap your last line by about an inch.
Next, you are going to seal the end of the vinyl by ironing along the one-inch overlap. It’s a little bit hard to see in this pic, but the dotted line indicates how far the vinyl is overlapping the line. With your iron on its hottest setting, carefully and slowly run your iron along the side of the line, applying firm pressure to seal.
The vinyl will turn from shiny to matte when it has melted and sealed completely. Be careful not to heat TOO much, or your plastic may thin or rip. You can always remelt if you need to later!
Once the end is sealed, you will run the EDGE of your iron along the other lines, beginning at the fold and ending at the 16″ mark (so that the top 2″ are not sealed). Make sure to apply a little bit of pressure as you go. At first, this may take a little bit of trial-and-error to get right – just remember that you can always go back and reseal, but that if it melts too much… a duct-tape band aid is really your only fix.
After you have sealed all of the lines on the parchment, move the parchment down the vinyl sealing lines every 3″ until you come to the end – where you will seal the last entire inch again.
Then, fold the vinyl in half and close your wall of water with a piece of duct tape at the 1″ sealed ends. You COULD melt the ends together – but I actually prefer the duct tape because I can leave it on the plant a little bit longer. Instead of trying to get the wall-of-water off of your plant when it begins to outgrow it – you can just take the tape off, or even cut the tape at the seam so that you don’t risk damaging your plant by pulling it off over the top.
And that’s it! Fill each compartment of your wall of water about 1/2 way before filling the entire thing. For smaller plants, you can fill it about 3/4 of the way and “tee-pee” it inward, providing more insulation. As it gets bigger and the temperatures increase, you can fill it all the way and it will stand up straight.
If for some reason when you fill your wall-of-water a seam pops open, it just means that it was not melted or sealed completely. Empty the water and seal it again (it’s ok if its still wet inside).
When you are ready to take your wall-of-water off of your plant, give it a little rinse and make sure it is completely dry before storing it for next season – it will last you years and years!