Project House, Solutions

Living Downspout

A side sketch of our in house designed living downspout

Hi, back again.

This month we will be talking about a problem we had with the purpose built house we put together.

In the front of the house we have a cantilevered front porch, approximately 14′ wide and 7′ out from the building (Will come back to this in a future blog). The porch slopes out from the building and slightly to the left side, with an outlet for water at this point. The problem is to get the water from the porch to the ground (approximately 10′) in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Fortunately we had a couple of things in our favour. A raised bed was to be built & during the construction of the house we found a old stone lintel to use as part of the downspout.


Detailed front sketch of downspout with old stone lintel in a raised bed with ivy running around it up to the canopy, growing around a wire tellis.
The Living Downspout, sketch of ivy growing around an old stone lintel up to the canopy. Front Elevation


Another detailed sketch of the living downspout. Ivy running around the wire trellis to the canopy.
The Living Downspout, closer sketch of ivy growing around an old stone lintel. Side Elevation


Now to get the water from the porch to the top of the stone, we built a wire trellis in a conical spiral shape to support the ivy that would be planted. We made a tripod wooden frame from 2×2’s, the bottom of the tripod the size of the top of the stone lintel.

Isometric sketch of the living downspout. Showing the downspout in the roof where water drops onto the ivy and lintel.
The Living Downspout, closer view of where the water drops onto the lintel. Isometric Elevation


In the Z-Design Lab Workshop we made a ring that will fit into the outlet drop and is attached to 3/8″ (8mm) aluminum wires, that are then spiraled around the tripod, clamped in place and then annealed to keep their shape. The ring with the wires attached was pushed up into the outlet drop and screwed in place from the outside. The 3 wires were attached to the stone with another piece of wire.

Ivy does not like a lot of water, so you would think it is not very suitable for a downspout. In the raised bed where the downspout was going, there is an outlet for water. It was then layed with old coarse rubble, then plastic over it, then the soil.


Plan elevation sketch of the living downspout. Showing where the canopy is positioned over the raised bed and the hole to let it drop onto the lintel. It also shows 2 perforated pipes which allow the water drain from the bed onto the yard.
The Living Downspout, showing the raised bed and how the water drains onto the yard. Plan Elevation


I sourced an ivy plant with an 8′ tail and planted it back about 4′ from the stone lintel, where it would be relatively dry. Ran it partially underground then up the stone lintel.

These are the results a year later:

The water rolls down the leaves to the soil and since the roof that is being drained is not too big there will be no puddling.

That is our Living Downspout, bye for now,


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