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Creative Container Gardening: Tips, Projects & Ideas

Lots of goodies today! If you’d like to get creative with your yard display this year, I’ve put together a list to help tweak some ideas for you (this is also a great way to repurpose household items that would otherwise be junked).

Next you’ll find four videos: two provide tips that will help your potted plants do their best, and two videos show how to make your own containers using hypertufa (I love that stuff!). At the bottom I’ve added several different projects you can try that I’ve found around the ‘net…most are pretty easy too!

Here is a list of different items you can use, I’ve either seen these implemented or come across mentions of them. Make sure to add your favorite ideas too!

  1. Work Boots (leave the toe intact or cut out for flowers to bloom out both ends)
  2. Metal Buckets & Pails (these can be painted in either a solid color or with a decorative design–but plain metal works too)
  3. Wicker Baskets (these can be painted)
  4. Wooden Kegs/Whisky Barrels/Rain Barrels
  5. Wheelbarrow
  6. Old Toybox & Wooden Crates
  7. Deep Roasting Pans, Stock Pots
  8. Old Bicycle (I saw a yard display once that had a bicycle basket attached to the front handlebars with flowers planted inside, as well as hanging flower bags fixed across the seat)
  9. Old Fashioned Baby Carriage
  10. Mailbox
  11. Old Chair (cut out the seat and attach a fitted container inside)
  12. Dresser Drawer
  13. Deep Enamelware Pots
  14. Child’s Wagon (choose one that’s deep so there’s lots of soil for the plants to grow)
  15. End Table (turned on its side)
  16. Watering Cans
  17. Hypertufa Containers (see more info below)
  18. Bird Houses (large with the roof removed and a plant inside)
  19. Wooden Tool Box
  20. Old Fashioned Bird Cage (pot inside)
  21. Hollowed Out Stumps & Logs
  22. Old Wash Tubs


Here are two different videos offering tips for preparing plant pots and containers. I have included summary notes under each video for those who can’t view them.


Three Things You Need To Know For Best Results:



Hypertufa is a mixture of cement, peat moss, and sand designed to imitate volcanic stone which was once used in England as watering troughs for livestock. The troughs were later used as planters by English gardeners, but eventually the supply ran out.

Hypertufa was invented as a substitute material for planters and can be shaped in almost any way. It has the appearance of stone, but is also lightweight enough to be moved around the patio. Once cured, it’s freeze- and thaw-proof so it can be left outside year-round.

Source: Home Envy [1] (also has a tutorial). I’ve added a couple videos below showing you how easy it is to make:



Looking for a bit of whimsy or that perfect colored pot for your garden? Why not make your own! Here are several different projects from around the net that you can try…


Patio Pavers [2]: All you need for supplies are 5 patio pavers, weatherproof construction adhesive and DecoArt Patio Paint to tint the pavers in the color of your choice (paint is permanent and weather resistant).

On The Cheap [3]: With a little paint, shellac, and elbow grease, you can turn plain old pots into something truly spectacular!



Cement [4]: You can make the planters for both indoors and outdoors, decorate in your own style and voila! you have planters in shapes, sizes and colors that will match your decor perfectly.

Stone [5]: Make your own stunning planter using stones and cement.



Small Space Salad Box [6]: The idea is to take a window box, attach some legs to it then use it as a raised planter to grow a small amount of herbs and vegetables.

Chair Seat [7]: (pdf) The idea is to remove the chair’s upholstered seat and make a new planter seat with chicken wire and some weedmat to hold dirt, sphagnum moss and potting mix that you can plant succulents in.



Cupcake [8]: With some creative painting you can turn plain terracotta pots into something whimsical for your garden.

Mosaic [9]: Take a plain old terra cotta pot, add some pieces of ceramic tile (or pieces of broken china) and voila! a one-of-a-kind garden showpiece.



Galvanized [10]: The idea is to take plain old galvanized planters and spiffy them up with paint in either a design (see the checkerboard example) or a single color that’s bright and pretty (notice the chalkboard “label” idea).

Simple Spring Planter [11]: Modern looking planter made with pine, wood glue, wood stain, polyurethane and landscapers cloth.



Felt Wall Planter [12]: Made with squares of craft felt and features a plywood back so that it can be removed and stored away during the off season.

Jute Webbing [13]: A few yards of jute webbing is woven around a disposable cooler, fabric stiffener applied then cooler removed once the materials are dry.



Wood Boxes With Casters [14]: Made with plywood sheets, caster wheels, screws, wood glue and paint or stain. These can be made as large (or small) as you like.

Wooden Planter Box [15]: Clever idea! Holes are cut into a piece of lumber which is then attached to a wall with brackets. The holes are sized to fit clay pots.



Jello Mold [16]: A neat way to display succulents, this fits in place around a patio table umbrella.

Food Gardens In A Bag [17]: Here’s a clever idea planting seeds and seedlings directly in topsoil bags.



Concrete [18]: Tupperware containers are used for the molds, made with fast setting cement patcher (good for a smooth finish).

Faux-Stone Finish How-To [19]: Learn how to transform a plastic or resin flower pot with paint, sandpaper, primer, and other basic supplies.



Recycled Planter Box [20]: Made with teak (or other reclaimed lumber), exterior glue, corrugate roofing and assorted tools.

Deck Rail Planter [21]: Can be built as long as you wish, the base is suitable for resting on a deck floor or along the railing.



Cheap Decorative Ideas [22]: Make pots pretty with outdoor paint (or chalkboard paint), masking tape and foam stamps.

Galvanized Washtubs [23]: Holes are punched in the bottom then the tubs spray painted and wooden legs added (optional).



How To Make Tipsy Pots [24]: What a creative display for garden pots!

One of the best things to have when container gardening is a potting bench, these make an ideal work space (which your back will surely thank you for!). You’ll find some free plans on this page [25].