Stunning Low-Budget Container Gardens
Repurpose old, damaged or about-to-be discarded items into smart-chic containers. If the items don't have drainage holes, add some. Or keep the plants in their pots so you can easily slip them out of the container to dump excess water.
By: Nancy Ondra
A Hanging Garden
Colorful purses, small tote bags and other handled handbags make fun and fashionable plant holders. Lining them with plastic will keep the potting soil from staining the fabrics. Hang the handles from hooks on a wall, slip them over fence posts or dangle them from tree branches.
At the Beach
Bring a bit of the seaside to your garden with a collection of beach-themed planters, such as inexpensive sand buckets or other plastic beach toys. Plastic and insulated metal coolers make great containers too. You can even fill large shells with sandy growing mix and tuck small succulents into them.
Decorative or storage baskets come in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes and colors to complement any of your favorite container flowers. To help wicker and woven-wood baskets last longer, treat them to a coat of varnish or polyurethane and line them with plastic before adding the plants.
Beyond the Pails
Plastic, metal or wooden buckets are ideal for displaying all kinds of flowering and foliage favorites. Smaller pails are perfect for individual plants; bigger buckets are great for large single plants or colorful combinations.
Case by Case
Give an old suitcase new life as an out-of-the-ordinary container. Old (or new) chests, makeup cases or wicker cases are other good options. Add the plants, prop the lid partway open and let the stems spill out over the edge.
Color Your World
Recycle your old paint cans into pretty container gardens. Or buy metal paint cans at hardware stores and home centers. To dress them up, drizzle craft paint around the top rim and add some drips down the sides. Cover with a coat of polyurethane to stop the cans from rusting, or leave them untreated and enjoy the rusty, rustic look that develops within a few months.
Celebrate the guy in your life with a collection of containers that represent his favorite things. If he enjoys grilling, for instance, tuck some low-growing plants into a little hibachi, or go big by turning an old kettle grill into a mobile planter. Other fun ideas include coffeepots and mugs, animal-themed containers, toolboxes, auto accessories and sports-related items.
For the Birds
Old bird cages, birdhouses and feeders make fun and fanciful containers for displaying pretty plants. Abandoned nests, bird figurines, feathers and other avian accessories help to complete the theme.
Give tired or tattered old hats new life as a hanging garden. Baseball hats make instant pot covers: Simply open the sizing tabs in back, slip the opening around the base of the plant and snap the tabs closed again. On straw, felt or fabric hats, cut a hole into the front or top and gently feed the plant stems through the hole.
Have a Seat
Convert old wooden, wicker or plastic chairs into uncommon containers by cutting a hole in the seat and slipping in a pot of flowers. Doll-sized chairs don't need any extra preparation: Simply set a small pot right on the seat.
Old or damaged kitchen-related items those you don't plan to use for cooking any longer offer endless possibilities for plant containers. Cooking pots and pans are just the start: Try colanders, cupcake tins, measuring cups or any other items meant for holding liquid or dry materials. Bundt pans and angel food cake pans make perfect planters for living wreaths.
Turn a tackle box into a unique container. Display some lures in the upper tray or plant those sections too. Bait buckets, cricket cages, traps and fishing baskets also work well for holding plants.
Turn an old desk into a charming container by tucking small bushy and trailing plants into the partly opened drawers. Complete the effect by popping plants into desk accessories, such as a pencil holder, an old telephone or a small desk lamp.
On the Farm
Bring a touch of country charm to your deck, porch or patio with a grouping of farm-related containers, such as bushel baskets, wooden crates and berry boxes. Feeders, waterers, buckets, feed scoops and other livestock-related items offer other planting possibilities.
When you're not using your picnic table, dress it up with a display of picnic-themed planters, such as plastic pitchers and glasses, colorful serving bowls and, of course, an old picnic basket.
Thrifting With Shoes
Sneakers, shoes and boots in either plastic or leather make absolutely adorable holders for individual flowering or foliage plants. Sit them on the ground, prop them up on a rack or hang them on a wall or fence.
Time for Tea
It's easy to get carried away collecting teapots and teacups to the point that you run out of room to display them indoors. Why not turn some of them into pretty planters? It's fine if they're chipped, or if their handles or lids are missing. Metal teakettles and tea tins can be delightful additions to the grouping.
When your kids have outgrown their play wagons, turn those toys into marvelous mobile containers. Regular-sized wagons can hold a wide variety of plants, so you can grow a whole garden in a single wagon. Wagons are also great for growing lettuces and other greens.
Wetting Your Plants
Don't throw away those leaky or dented watering cans. Use them as-is or remove the handle and widen the opening to make more room for plants.
Yes, You Can
Old or reproduction food tins make terrific pots for your favorite annual flowers or houseplants. Group them by a theme, such as candy, coffee or veggies, or mix them up for a quaint and colorful collection.