30 Whimsical Container Gardens Made on the Cheap

There's no need to spend big bucks on planters and flower pots. Look around the house or scour thrift stores and flea markets for unique vessels to add personality to your patio.

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Overflowing Wheelbarrow

This wheelbarrow almost looks as if it got mistakenly left out in the yard and the flowers took over and made it their home.

Petunias in Pants

Hang old blue jeans along a fence or clothesline and fill them with annuals. No need to fill the entire legs with good topsoil, stuff the bottoms with unamended dirt, packing peanuts or old burlap bags.

Not Just for Pasta

Colanders make great planters since they already have drainage holes. Fill with coco liner, small rocks, potting soil and plants, then add twine to hang.

Hat Trick

Give old hats new life as hanging gardens. 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. Design by Nancy Ondra


Put that old sandbox to good use by repurposing it into a fun, kid-friendly garden chock-full of healthy fruits and veggies.

See How It's Done: Upcycle a Sandbox Into a Kid-Friendly Garden

Unexpected Welcome

This antique shaving stand serves a new purpose as an official greeter. Lined with plants and other decor, including house numbers, it is a fun welcome for all who visit.

How to: Make a Front-Porch Planter From Repurposed Furniture

Superhero Lunchbox

If your kids outgrow their lunchbox or you're still holding on to your favorite one from elementary school (no shame), take it out of the pantry, fill it with plants and put it on display.

Giant Building Blocks

This raised bed was made from blocks that are specially designed for planters, but you can might get lucky and find a bunch of blocks at a garage sale or thrift store.

Flower Bed

The tooth fairy is not going to find the pillow in this bed. The only thing she's going to discover is shade-loving perennials, moss and a few rocks.

Truck Beds

When your kids outgrow their toys, use them as planters.

Take a Seat

Old wood chairs can easily be converted into holders for flowerpots; simply cut a hole in the seat and slip in the pot. Doll-sized chairs don't need any extra preparation because you can just set a small pot right on the seat. Potty chairs work the best because the hole is already there. Design by Nancy Ondra


Upcycle plastic toy dinosaurs into succulent planters for a desk or window sill. Use a craft knife to cut the hole.

Gutter Garden

A rusty old piece of gutter moves from the roof to the deck railing to become a planter for colorful annuals.

It's in the Bag

Colorful purses and small tote bags make fun and fashionable plant holders. Lining them with plastic will keep the potting soil from staining the fabrics. Hang the handles from hooks, slip them over fence posts or dangle them from tree branches. Design by Nancy Ondra

Upcycling Rubber

Don't toss those old tires! Turn them into chic planters with a little paint and some materials from the hardware store.

See How: 3 Oversized Planters You Can Make From Upcycled Items

Crate Shelving

Dress up a fence or garden wall with brightly painted wood crates grouped together to make outdoor shelving.

Let It Lure You In

Turn a tackle box into a unique container garden. Bait buckets, cricket cages, traps and fishing baskets also work well for holding plants. Design by Nancy Ondra

The Perfect Teacher Gift

Craft a planter out of an old ruler for your favorite teacher or for your desk. This is an easy craft that the kids can help make.

See More: Teachers Rule: Make This DIY Planter for the First Day

Shoe Bootie

Leather or plastic sneakers, shoes and boots make 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. Design by Nancy Ondra

Succulents on Wheels

Not only does a vintage wheelbarrow planter look great, it's practical as well. When the plants need more sun or shade, you can easily move it to just the right spot.

It's an Open Book

Upcycle a damaged book into a one-of-a-kind planter for your desk.

See How It's Done: DIY Succulent Book Planter


This old metal box used to be home to a reciprocating saw. Now it's a beautiful, low-maintenance display of succulents.

DIY Spiral Style

Looking for a planter with some height? Make a spiral swirl using reed fencing and a galvanized tub. If you don't have any reed fencing laying around, you can find it in most stores for cheap.

See How: Spin Control: Make a Spiral Planter

Tin Can Alley

Lightweight aluminum garbage cans add a shiny touch of industrial chic to a modern setting.

For the Birds

Old birdcages, 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. Design by Nancy Ondra

Paint and Plant

Old wood pallets are a great (and often free!) source of weathered lumber - perfect for upcycling into a rustic planter box. Paint the slats in watery shades of blue and green for a beachy update.

Upcycle Old Pallets Into Colorful Planter Boxes

Desk Set

Turn an old desk or dresser into a charming garden by tucking small bushy and trailing plants into the partly opened drawers. Complete the look by popping plants into desk accessories, such as a pencil holder, an old telephone or a small desk lamp. Design by Nancy Ondra

Grocery Garden

Old or reproduction food tins make terrific pots for 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. Design by Nancy Ondra

Paint Cans

Recycle old paint cans or buy new metal paint cans. 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. Fill the can with old wine corks for drainage then add soil and your favorite herbs or flowers. Use paint stirrer sticks as plant markers. Design by Nancy Ondra

Bring the Beach

Bring the beach to your garden by upcycling old coolers and pails into planters.

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