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My husband is in the construction business. One day he brought this old salad display home. It is the large kind you see at buffets. It has a sneeze guard on the top. I put it on my back porch and planted herbs in it.
Most gardeners know that you can grow vegetables in pots instead of putting them in the ground. In our garden, we do both. Buying pots can be very expensive, so we started looking at everyday objects to find cheap and, sometimes, decorative alternatives.
The pictures show nasturtiums growing in a hollow of a thriving tree, cucumbers just starting in a pair of old boots, Swiss chard in an old dishpan, potatoes in a storage bin (and a hammock strategically placed to keep the deer out of the garden and yes, it worked wonderfully), and tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant thriving in reusable shopping bags that we paid 50 cents for. We cut or drilled holes in containers that had no drainage, except the tree, and some old stumps.
All of the plants did very well and gave us a lot of delicious veggies. So far it looks like all of them will be used again next year and beyond, though the garden is still growing, and the containers not inspected. Containers like storage bins are great for storing the other pots and equipment.
By Copasetic 1 from North Royalton, OH
My daughter loves anything old or antique and loves rag rugs, so I decided to use the rag rug technique and make her rag flower pots.
I cut rag strips, braided them together and then hot glued them to plastic tubs from the Dollar Store. Everyone in the family now wants rag flower pots.
Source: I just kinda thought of another use for the rag rug technique.
My yard is mostly shade with the gravel driveway being the sunniest spot on the property. I refused to give up vegetable gardening when we bought the place, so I gathered up my galvanized tub collection (including an old wringer-type mop bucket and a calf-feeder, minus the, er, artificial udder.) I used the best soil mix I could, because nutrients are lost faster in containers.
There's not much chance of our many rabbit families getting at these veggies, since I put them up on cinder blocks for added height - this also saves my back while tending. I secured rain gutter mesh over the top of the soil to foil the squirrels and chipmunks who love to dig up anything I plant (usually the night after I plant it).
Set in the sunniest place in our yard, this year's veggie garden is coming along nicely - lettuce is ready for the salad bowl. When the lettuce is finished up, the tomato plant will have plenty of room to stretch its roots.
This system works great when you have limited space or have a mostly shaded yard.
By Gloria from western NY
This simple project is a wonderful way to use the china teacups gathering dust on your shelves. Filled with soil and ivy they make dainty and long-lived planters.
By Christine Weber
This wine press has been in the family for about 50 years and has seen many, many boxes of grapes and we have enjoyed many, many bottles of homemade wine. The day finally came when the press was ready for retirement and I turned it into a lovely garden piece.
The old(er) aunts, uncles and cousins love what I've done with the press and whenever they see it, the reminisces begin. What fun!
By Wilhelmina from Amherstburg, ON
Planning ahead for the seasons can add challenges to spring planting. Instead of planting each season, plant now to create an entire yearly display for much less than you'll pay to replant it each season. Why pay money to purchase plants and then throw them away?
Think about the year ahead instead. We consider an entire season's planting when digging flower beds in the yard, but we often ignore them in potted displays. While pansies and winter cabbage are attractive, save them for your yard and keep them out of the potted plants. Instead, think about plants that will die down and reappear each year. Yearly plantings should be reserved for the larger planters.
As the frost line approaches your home, consider covering the planter with an old bed sheet at night. This will keep your flowers blooming and healthy longer. When the cold comes on strong, if you live in a colder climate, you'll have to add to your planter manually. Prune some interestingly shaped branches from around your yard and add them to the planter. If they have colored leaves, this will add to the display until the leaves dry. Bare sticks will continue the autumn look while adapting to the harsher temperatures.
For those who live in planting zone 6 and further north, this time period of autumn into winter is tricky for planters. Explore your recycling options. Continue to add the bare sticks as well as any dried berries and fall items you might find in your yard. Then, recycle the jack-o-lantern by turning his face to the back, covering it with the sticks and findings, and using the orange color to accentuate your display.
With a little investment, purchase a small evergreen for the center of your pot. Keep the other flowers growing around it, and decorate it according to the season. The evergreen will look lovely with smaller spring bulbs around its base, small summer flowers such as sweet alyssum around its base, sticks and marigolds in autumn, and mulch in the winter.
It's important to mulch your planter during the winter. Keeping it close to the house or under a porch will help to protect it. Adding pine needles as mulch is also a cheap and decorative solution.
By Kelly Ann Butterbaugh
I love interesting places to display flowers. Especially when they are easy since I don't have much of a green thumb. Here are some things I've done:
I used an old wheelbarrow by drilling holes in the bottom for drainage, throw in some gravel then top w/soil and plants. Plants that hang off the sides look great and something big and flashy in the middle. You can also lay the barrow on its side and design from there.
Another great tip is using old chairs that have lost their seat in them.
By Sarah Cox from Hixson, TN
I keep my eyes open for any old galvanized buckets, tubs, and pails that I can use in my garden. This one was once a "calf-a-teria" complete with rubber udder where the hole is at the bottom. It now hangs on my garden fence with the bracket once used for hanging on the calf pens.
By ~gloria from upstate NY
Interesting focal points in your garden don't always have to include terra cotta pots. See what you have around the house that would make a creative planter.
I like the contrast of old metal against the softness of the plants. Here is a vintage tea kettle with a young nasturtium plant. I've hung it from a wrought iron stand in a patch of bee balm.
Don't forget to put drainage holes in the bottom of your new containers, or make a layer of stone before adding soil.
By gloria from western NY
Many household objects can be used as containers in the garden. I love to use old chairs in the garden to add height and interest to an area that might be otherwise plain without it.
Many can be found on trash day, free for the taking. This one was without a seat, so I stapled a wire basket to the underside of the chair and added a cocoa liner. A layer of newspaper in the liner helps to retain moisture as cocoa liners can dry out easily in the heat of the summer. Fill with plants and good quality potting soil that contains a slow release fertilizer and moisture holding crystals.
By Dottie from Pennellville, NY
I hated to throw away our used swimming pool filter and thought it looked so interesting. I stood it upright and put a flower pot on top of it. It adds prominence to an empty space in the garden.
Last fall I took a large pumpkin and cleaned it out, filled it with potting soil and put a Mum plant in it. I used it as a decoration on my front porch. At the end of the season I took the Mum/pumpkin and planted it in the ground. That Mum came up great this year. I guess the pumpkin acted as good mulch for the Mum.
This fall I'm going to get a few different sized mums and pumpkins and decorate my porch and yard.
By Caroline D. from New Jersey
Want something different for your front lawn or garden? Use an iron chair or glider and fill it with ivy and flowers. My husband put some wooden sides on it and I lined the bottom with coconut liners. I filled the bottom with several inches of potting soil and planted away topping off with pine straw. Every year I try a new plants for variety.
By Tammie from Moody, AL
If you have empty cans of paint left after a project, don't throw them away! Turn them into hanging planters.
Take off the lids and let any remaining paint dry, you will not need the lids. After the paint dries, take a nail and punch some holes in the bottom of the can to allow for drainage, otherwise the can will collect too much water and rust.
If the can has a paper label, peel it off and you will have a plain can that you can paint or leave plain. If the product information is printed right on the can, you can spray paint over it to cover.
You can loop the can handle over a picket fence stake, and the can will sit flush against the fence, or you can hang it from a hook. Plant directly in the can, or to make cleanup easier, use large yogurt or cottage cheese containers with holes cut for drainage - the can will hide the plastic container, and you can pop it out easily at the end of the season.
These look especially nice with cascading plants, but you can put anything you like in them.
By Regina from Rochester, NY
The easy way is to heat a hole punch, awl, or nail tip over a lit candle. Then simply push it down into the turned over container in several spots to allow for adequate drainage. Done!
By anne 
With the cold weather, I do my gardening indoors. I use cute planters from thrift shops like coffee mugs, porcelain creamers, or ceramic pots that strike my fancy. I drill drain holes in them using glass/tile drill bits that I buy from a tool outlet or home/garden centers, fill them up with potting soil and plant small houseplants in them. Perfect for my window sills in every part of the house!
By Renee from San Diego, CA
They are easy and fun and require basically what you can find around your home and yard. Use old clay or ceramic plates, soil, small rocks or pebbles, dried flowers, sand, moss, etc., to create little faerie gardens or as my daughter calls them "Ladybug Gardens". In this pic, a pond was made out of the bottom of a plastic water bottle and a leaf, floral wire and picks were used to create a fairie swing. Fun Fun Fun!
By LovelyMom from Durham, NC
Note: Holes were drilled for drainage and the sides lined with plastic to protect the wood
By Lisa from Halifax, Nova Scotia
Use vintage metal buckets found at yard sales for container gardening. In most cases, the buckets already have holes in the bottom, acting as great drainage holes. Fill with organic materials and plants and, voila, you have a portable container gardening solution!
By Lisa from Halifax, Nova Scotia
I had several items in my yard that I was using as yard art; wear and tear of these items in the weather elements caused rust and corrosion. I changed these items; painted them and they are again a nice addition to my yard art collection.
I had an old milk can that the bottom had rusted out; it was painted black a few years ago and had been placed in a flower bed among the day lilies and irises; it had no top on it so I used it as a vase to put fresh flowers in; I painted it and used a spatter technique to finish it; I put a flower pot in it and placed a peace lily in it; I will change the flowers now according to season or holiday. It sits at the entrance of my back door on my backyard deck.
I also had an old tea kettle that was bent and had rusted; I painted it and used the spatter technique on it; it sits on an old rusted small pot bellied stove that sits on our backyard deck; I punched holes in the bottom of the tea kettle; this fall it will have pansies in it and will bring lots of color to that area of our deck. The rusted pot bellied stove is inoperable and is used as a garden ornament; I like the rusty color so I will not paint it.
By WandaJo from TN
Editor's Note: Here's is WandaJo's earlier post with the tea kettle on the old, rusted stove:
Use a strawberry pot as an inexpensive side table on your deck! First plant small vines or other trailing plants in the holes of the pot. Fill the rest of the pot with soil then cover top of the soil with small pebbles and cover the top with a small glass table top.
By Chanon from Knoxville, TN
An old work boot with the toe cut out becomes a planter for a variety of succulents and decorates the steps of a wooden porch.
You can cut holes in the toes for additional planting possibilities. I hope to find another pair at garage sales this summer, to paint white. I'll put some allysum in the toes, and vinca vines draped around the cuffs, with maybe red geraniums, or petunias coming out of the top.
Now, if you're familiar with "pack boots" (they are usually constructed of green rubber). These make good substitutes for those long, hanging, plastic planters with holes cut out of the sides for plants with runners (like strawberries, or spider plants), and I've also seen them done with impatients. Just fashion a hanger using the eyelets, cut some slits in the sides, and toes, and fill with dirt. Arrange plants in the slits and tops. Or put the parent plant in the top, and open the slits up for the anticipated runners. Voila!
Harlean from Arkansas
Old copper jello molds cost next to nothing at yard sales. Drill a few holes in the bottom and they make great planters. I always have a few plants on hand started from cuttings for a quick gift when I need one.
A pal had a bunch of plant clippings she was wanting to get rid of at a yard sale. With not having any excess planters, she made her own planters with record albums she no longer wanted or needed. She melted the albums into shapes of planters, with the center hole being the bottom drain hole. Clever idea! One idea I'd never thought of before!
By Terri H.
Editor's Note: Here is a link to a ThriftyFun craft project making a vinyl record bowl or planter.
When my children were young and still living at home, they made a habit of burning my tea kettles dry. I decided to plant flowers, and/or herbs in them. They look really cute outside or inside! Especially the cow one!
Today I was driving by someone's home and saw what I thought were pretty white "pillars" down the side of their driveway with gorgeous plant boxes sitting inside of them hanging down over the sides of the "pillars".
As I got closer, I noticed that these were all just plain white laundry baskets with the decorative air holes in the sides. The planter boxes sat perfectly inside of them and hung over the sides. A neat idea! I am sure they placed stones on the bottoms to weight them down as well.
By Deborah Shelton
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Here are questions related to Creative Planter Ideas.
I have a business with a sunny front and a low window. I want to plant flowers outside below the window. It is about 8 feet in length and 2 feet high. I need some unusual ideas for planters. Preferably some things that are long.
By Cindy E
By anne 01/13/2012
Don't know what your zone is, but this window box in Charleston South Carolina blew my socks off! It looks to me like the white in the center is allysum, the pink are petunias, the blue could be scaviola,and there could be other stuff in there as well. Just remember to use the best soil you can find, add lots of a timed release fertilizer (maybe also a bit of miracle grow in your watering),Buy the healthiest plants you can find and pack them in! If you can find some variegated ivy or vinca, that would creat a trailing effect. Good Luck! Anne in NC
Here's a picture of a flowers planted in an old truck. Do you have any creative planter ideas to share? Post your ideas below.
By Oneta Mutchler 06/29/2008
I am wondering what is "no dirt" soil also. Could the person with that post please tell us what it is? Thank you
Below are photos related to this guide.
This is my portable flower garden. Because of my husband's job, we used to transfer in the summers and I wouldn't get the chance to "take" my garden with me. Or sometimes we moved to a house without much for landscaping. In order to at least have something with a little flower power, I decided to use my childhood wagon as a garden container, just in case we move again. This last summer, I planted impatiens in them and they did really well. I also like being able to move my portable flower bed to different areas of my garden.
By Denise from NB
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
I want to make a planter out of work boots. Do they have to be lace up ones?
Linda from NW Iowa
Boots make great planters!
By moonseekerjade from Onset, MA