How to Make DIY Gardening Containers

Learn how to to make gardening containers out of things you find around the house.
Recycle Old Kitchen Items for Patio Plants

Recycle Old Kitchen Items for Patio Plants

©2007, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2007, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Anything can be used for a plant container as long as it has adequate drainage holes. Kitchen rejects such as an old saucepan make eye-catching pots for garden flowers.

Question:

I want to use more containers in my small garden space and I like the idea of making gardening containers from recycled items I have at home. What should I keep in mind when choosing or making a container?

Answer:

Good thinking! As long as it can hold soil, any old thing, no matter how outrageous, can be used as a container. And items that are too holey or bizarre can be MacGyvered into submission.

Just about anything will do, but what works well depends on the plants you have in mind to grow. Plastics are the go-to choice for most gardeners because they hold water in well, which means less work for you down the line and less stress for water-loving plants. Clean garbage cans, storage boxes, bins, and your mom’s ancient Tupperware are just a few good options, but if you are growing food you will want to know if that particular plastic will leak chemicals into the soil over time. Check the recycling code on the bottom. Numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 are considered “safer.” Food grade buckets that once held cooking oil or pickles aren’t particularly cute, but they are free and a nice size for larger vegetables such as cucumbers, bushing tomatoes, and kale.

There are plenty of metal objects sitting around in the home that make excellent, and more attractive containers (in my opinion). However, keep in mind that metal is prone to overheating in the sun – location is key when using recycled food tins or a broken watering can. They are best suited to herbs such as thyme, oregano, and lavender that will appreciate the heat and don’t mind short periods of drought.

Drainage

You can’t control the amount of water plants receive outdoors, so it is essential that you always add drainage holes. Water plants and homemade ponds are the exception. I use a drill when making holes in thick plastics and wood. Special masonry or porcelain bits are necessary when making holes in recycled clay and pottery pieces. Take it slow and easy to avoid breakage. Hammer holes into metal with a very large nail. I have a long, pencil-thick roofing nail that I keep on hand for galvanized metal buckets, basins, and toughs.

Lining

While it is not a requirement, lining wooden containers with plastic can help slow down rot. Don’t forget to poke several holes through the lining before planting. Line open-weaved baskets with coir sheets or porous landscaping fabric – they allow water to drain freely but hold the soil in. It’s also a good idea to line galvanized pots when growing food, as there is a possibility of chemical exposure due to chemicals used in the manufacturing process. When in doubt, stick with ornamentals only. Bulk-sized olive oil cans make a good (and free) alternative.

Garden authority Gayla Trail is the creator of YouGrowGirl.com.

Next Up

New Year, New Project: Make This Fridge Herb Garden With Recycled Tea Tins

Start the new year off healthy and organized with this adorable tea tin herb garden made for the fridge!

A Fairy Container Garden

Learn how to create a miniature world where things are small in scale and huge with possibilities.

Spin Control: Make a Spiral Planter

Quick and easy steps for making a striking vortex-planter.

How to Make a Decorative Garden Path

Make a fun, leaf-inspired garden path with this step-by-step guide for making steppingstones.

Novel Idea: Make a Succulent Planter From Vintage Books

Turn an old book into a sassy succulent planter.

Let It Wave: Craft a Garden-Inspired Flag

Declare your love of gardening and fly your own flag.

DIY Gift-Wrapping Ideas: Okra Gift Wrap

Let your child's creativity flourish with these easy-to-make okra pod stamps.

Create a Mother's Day Tea Garden

Put a twist on tea in the garden by planting up vintage teacups.

Light Up the Night: DIY Industrial Chic Garden Lanterns

Add some sparkle to your outdoor dining with these simple lanterns made with hardware store supplies.

Play With Your Food: Make a Mouse

Make some garden art you can eat with this great craft for kids.