Spring planting is a balm after a long winter, so it’s no wonder many homeowners are ready and raring these days to add some foliage both inside and outside their home.
Still, buying new planters can be expensive—and the selection at your local nursery can be pretty dull. The fix? Get creative with your planters by using containers you already have around your house!
“It’s great to upcycle unusual planters to give them a second life so they don’t end up in the trash,” says Chris Lambton, a professional green thumb and co-host of HGTV’s “Going Yard.”
Just keep drainage in mind when you choose a container.
“Whatever you decide to make into a planter needs to have holes drilled into it, so your plantings don’t become waterlogged,” says Emma Lam, owner and lead designer of A Small Green Space.
Ceramics and metals that can’t be pierced should be layered with small rocks at the bottom to hold extra water.
For inspiration, here are some really out-there planter ideas made from household items.
1. Beer can planters
Lambton saves unique beer cans to plant succulents, so search your outgoing recyclables for good-looking vessels. Simple remove the top with a can opener, add some pebbles with soil to promote drainage and then pop in your favorite greenery. Succulents are an easy choice because they barely need any water. (Just sprinkle the soil when it’s very dry.)
2. Coffee mugs
Who doesn’t have 15 extra coffee mugs in their cabinet? The same planting method used with beer cans applies to mugs. (Add small pebbles or gravel in the bottom, then a layer of dirt.)
3. Rubber boots
Lam is a big fan of rain boots as cute planters.
“You can also try old plastic toys like trucks or dinosaurs, a pair of Crocs, or anything you want to hold on to a little longer from your kid’s childhood,” she says.
What’s on the tube tonight? Why, it’s that new show about cacti and their struggle for survival inside an old-style TV! It’s the perfect plant terrarium, as long as you add some grow lights.
Have a jalopy you just can’t part with? A very smart succulent lover made good use of this car’s front and back sections—and didn’t even skip the headlights! #cargardensforthewin!
So an old latrine isn’t going to suit everyone’s taste, but for that special someone who’s OK with the look, this porcelain throne is right on the money. It’s easy to plant, with two convenient compartments, and weather elements (sun, rain, wind) won’t leave a mark.
Putting a sieve into service as a holder of blooms is, frankly, genius as the drainage is built right in. You know you have four of them in your pots and pans drawer, so dig one up and make it shine on your picnic table this season.
A sweet birdcage gets a new life with a bright coat of spray paint and a pretty plant within. Hang yours on a shepherd’s hook or tied to a tree limb with twine.
10. Old soccer balls
Old sports equipment is quickly made into a planter by slicing off the top third and then poking a few drainage holes in the bottom. Add more holes around the edge to secure rope for easy hanging.
11. Over-the-door shoe holder
These shoe pockets are the perfect size for small plants, and when the organizer is filled, you’ll have a verdant wall to hang on the patio or the side of your garage.
12. Old tires
Raised beds made of used tires means these rubber circles won’t be sent to the junkyard and burned, which in turn keeps toxins out of the air. Use some today and help save the planet, one tire at a time!
Just as with sieves, the loose weave of old baskets makes planting easy. Still, because you’ll get a flood of dirty water every time you hydrate your basket, you might want to line it with some plastic. Poke holes in this layer and your deck will be a bit cleaner each time you water.
14. Tree trunks
Are you savvy with a saw? You’ll also need an awl or drill to create drainage holes that slope away from the main planting space. You might even keep going with your design and create a stumpery, which is a garden made from old logs, bark, and timber. (Who knew?)
Whimsical and sweet, an old bike as a planter is easy to fill and place anywhere the sun shines best in your backyard.
16. Canoe or boat
Coastal residents and any homeowners who love the water will dig a canoe container for flowers or veggies. You can jazz up this nifty planter by painting your family name on the boat’s side.
Wagons, tea carts, or anything with wheels makes a smart-looking planter that’s fun to move about your yard. Fill it with spring pansies and park it near your mailbox—and then transition to mums and ornamental cabbages in the fall.