Wow Your Friends with These Creative and Frugal Container Projects

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Container gardening is so much fun! Not only do containers make gardening a possibility for everyone, even those with little space, but they also make great conversation pieces. This is especially true when you use recycled, free or cheap containers. Most garden plants are happy in any container as long as there is great organic soil with excellent drainage. 

Containers are so flexible; you can move them or hang them anywhere. You will be amazed at how many possible planting containers you throw away daily and how much landfill debris you can save by using recycled options. Here are a few very cool container ideas that are environmentally friendly and lots of fun to make.

Plastic pool raised bed

Don’t throw away that kids pool just because it has a small crack! Use it for a small raised garden bed instead. Herbs and salad greens do best in shallow kiddie pools. Be sure that you put some holes in the bottom and slits along the sides for drainage.

What you need

  • BPA -free plastic kids pool  
  • Utility knife  
  • Soil 
  • Plants
  • Woods or bricks (optional)

How to make it

  1. Using a helper to keep the pool steady, cut several large holes in the bottom, approximately one square inch each. 
  2. On the sides of the pool, create slits half an inch from the bottom. 
  3. Fill with soil, then pat down gently. 
  4. Make rows in the soil and plant seeds. 
  5. If necessary, prop plastic pool up on wood or bricks to allow for proper drainage.

Basket delight

Baskets come in all shapes and sizes, and many offer natural drainage, so there is no need to alter them. Strawberry plants love baskets, as do most herbs, salad greens, and annual flowers. To make your basket really shine, consider investing a few bucks in a can of your favorite color spray paint and paint the outside of the basket.

What you need

  • Old basket 
  • Spray paint 
  • Potting soil 
  • Plants

How to make it

  1. Spray paint your old basket to the color of your choice. Wait for it to dry before adding soil. 
  2. Add a few inches of potting soil. 
  3. Add plants, then cover with more soil until filled to the brim.

Coffee sack of potatoes

Potatoes grow especially well in bags. There’s no need to purchase a special potato bag when you can make your own from recycled coffee sacks! Not only are coffee sacks cute, but they are sturdy and will last for at least a couple of growing seasons. Here is how to make your own potato garden from a coffee sack.

What you need

  • Recycled sack 
  • Potting soil 
  • Potato seeds

How to make it

  1. Roll the edges of your sack down to make a short bag about six inches high. 
  2. Fill the sack with five inches of loose soil. 
  3. Place your potatoes on top of the soil six inches apart, with the eyes facing upwards. 
  4. Cover potatoes with six inches of soil. 
  5. In a couple of weeks, you will see the leafy plant push up through the soil. At this time, mound the soil around the plant to promote more growth. Leave a little bit of the green about the soil.

For best results, keep the soil moist but not soaking. If you live in a rainy climate, you will want to shelter your bag to prevent too much moisture. Harvest in 80 to 100 days by dumping your sack over.

Consider these neat container ideas

  • Old wooden drawers: Stack old wooden drawers on top of each other to make a creative planter tower. 
  • Cooking pots: Big stock pots are great for tomatoes, carrots, and other root veggies and well as annual flowers. 
  • Basketball: Don’t throw that old basketball out! Cut out a spot to plant, and a place to hang some chain, and you have a creative, sports-minded planter. 
  • Vintage bathtubs: Vintage bathtubs make a great focal point in any garden. Since they are deep, a multitude of plants can be grown, such as root veggies, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, and lettuce. 
  • Wheelbarrows: Turn a retired wheelbarrow into a fantastic herb and annual flower container. 
  • Paint cans: Recycle your paint cans into creative planting containers by simply drilling a few holes in the sides and bottom and lining with a plastic bag.
  • Toolbox or tacklebox: Open up a toolbox or a tackle box, and you will find a great place to showcase small herbs and dainty annual plants
  • Wooden boxes: Vintage wooden boxes are a great place to grow salad greens and herbs. I especially like the ones with dividers.



For step by step instructions for more fantastic container garden ideas, pick up a copy of my book,  The Backyard Harvest today! Let’s get creative.

-Susan Patterson

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