Frugal Planter Ideas

When the city converted to robot trash and recycle pick-up, I had five extra 32 gallon Rubbermaid trash cans. I have limited space for gardening, so I cut the bottom half of the trash cans off, drilled three holes (about 3/4 inch) on the bottom of the sides for drainage. I am now growing veggies in the large containers I created.


Now I have five top halves left over. Two of them I have started two compost piles (with lids) at the back of my yard. I turn the compost by simply picking up the plastic trash can upper, setting it down next to the pile, and forking the compost into it. I can turn the pile regularly with ease.

If you want to dress them up, you or your artistic kids (or grand-kids) can use some of that new Krylon spray paint that sticks to plastic. Perhaps camouflage them to blend in with the background. Use your imagination.

By charlie bouchard from San Antonio, TX

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In my free time, I like to browse around sites that have unique styles, but not necessarily purchase from them because they're quite pricey. I came across this Henry googly eye planter on Urban Outfitters and thought to myself, that'll be cute to add some cuteness to my planters! Plus, my kids have a bunch of those googly eyes laying around.

Two large googly eyes adhered to the side of a potted houseplant.

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5 Questions

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March 3, 2005

Ideas for inexpensive planters. Post your ideas.


March 3, 20050 found this helpful

I use the clear plastic lids that come with pies, salads, etc. to put underneath planters outside to catch the water so the plants do not become bone dry. These come in a variety of sizes and will usually fit under various sized pots. Also, I recycle those plastic containers that take-out food comes in (usually black on the bottom with clear lids) to start my seeds indoors -- just add your sterilized potting mix and add your clear plastic top -- voila! A free seed starting kit. I also use the plastic shopping bags from the grocery store to line all my small baskets in the house.

By Susan

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By (Guest Post)
March 3, 20050 found this helpful

GReat Idea! Just remember though that any plant needs ventilation.

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By Ml (Guest Post)
March 3, 20050 found this helpful

Some one in my area used the bottom half of a BBQ as a planter (just took the lid off). I am not sure if I like it or not but is defiantly thrifty! It is very popular around here to use a wheelbarrow and fill it with plants, so it is moveable or sometimes they push them over and make it look like they spilled

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March 3, 20050 found this helpful

Do you want to display these planters on your porch or decks,or are they just seed and bulb starters?

If they are just seed starters any throw away container can be cut down and molded to fit the flowers or vegetables.

If you care you could paint and decorate and old metal bucket. even stencil something on the sides.
Old rusty Wheel Barrows can hold a load of this years smaller flowers. Just paint it up .

Old coffee cups! I usallly put a single Portulaca in one and it blooms for months on a small metal table on my porch.
Go up to you attic or Garage Look around. If it looks like a container . It could be a planter.

I use to know a Florist that every live flower she sold was always in some kind of unique container.

I am sure many others on here will contribute many more ideas.
Good Luck
Mr. Thrifty

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March 3, 20050 found this helpful

Go to thrift stores and jumble sales and pick up ANYTHING you can put dirt in. Toy dumptrucks, pails, barrels, shoes, boots, etc. Your imagination is your limit! ;)

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March 5, 20050 found this helpful

If you're just looking to start seedlings, keep your laundry detergent jugs. Cut off the top, but leave the handle in tact. You can plant whatever you need and it's easily transported if you need them to get more sun. This container always works great to be a big scoop for winter salt or summer mulch.

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March 17, 20050 found this helpful

What about egg cartains for starting seeds? Cottage cheese or yogurt containers would also work. Poke a hole in the bottom and use the top as a saucer. Coffee cans are also great. My mother saves the bags she gets from the dry cleaners and uses them to cover plants when she goes away. The plastic bags can keep the plants moist for a couple of weeks, so why not use them for starting seeds? I used to use plastic gallon jugs as a cloche for tomato plants when first planting them outside in the ground. It kept them warm while hardening them off so that they could adjust to the outside climate. It also helped the plants retain moisture.

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By Engi (Guest Post)
March 19, 20050 found this helpful

If you just want something to plant things in use old food containers such as yogurt cups, empty cans, butter bowls, mayo jars, and any other empty container that comes from your kitchen.

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July 23, 20050 found this helpful

I make planters from old children's blue jean overalls. I hang them up on my patio. They are really cute and easy to make.


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By (Guest Post)
May 20, 20080 found this helpful

I took a old wicker laundry basket I had, and spray painted it white, filled it with the coconut grass (to keep the dirt inside) filled it with some good dirt and planted flowers in it. My new planter looks great on my door step.

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May 4, 20110 found this helpful

I recently bought 3 secondhand washing machine tubs and painted them up. They have plenty of drainage and are strong and a good size and look great. These are inexpensive as repair people who use other parts of the machine are happy to be rid of them and saves them going into landfill, might even be able to pick them up for free.

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May 14, 2011

With what did you cut your Rubbermaid trash cans? I have tried various things and nothing works.

By Audrey M


May 14, 20110 found this helpful

I have used a very large bread knife with big saw-teeth. I would mark real well first and cut to inside of line in case ink doesn't come out.Go slow I found it very easy to start but hard to keep cut straight.I got bread knife for dollar at garage sale. I saw one that someone had used leather punch and laced around top edge to spruce up and add touch of house color by front door. Good luck.

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October 19, 2017

By adding drainage holes to kitty litter tubs you can make several large, shallow planters inexpensively. This is a page about use kitty litter tubs as garden planters.

Blue Kitty Litter Tub

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