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Unusual Planters for a Thrifty Garden

by Tiffany in Gardening

Unusual Planters for a Thrifty Garden

When we decide to that we want to become more self sufficient and grow more of our own food, the cost may be prohibitive. We may have our hearts set on nice raised beds, wood planter boxes, a compost box, tools, ect but in all honesty you can grow food MANY different ways and getting started doesn’t have to cost much at all if you get a little creative. Your garden may not end up being a prime candidate for Home and Garden magazine but it will have a whimsical, magical touch and you will be taking charge of your own food freedom.

Usual Ideas for Planters

Tin Cans – Coffee cans and veggie cans make small but cheap planters! They are the perfect size for growing medicinal herbs and flowers and you can even paint a little strip on them with chalkboard paint so that you can write the name of whatever it is that is growing. Just make sure to drill some drainage holes in the bottom. Keep in mind that aluminum can leach and that one or two years may be all you want use aluminum cans and you may just want to stick to herbs or flowers you won’t be ingesting.

Old Tires – If you live in a rural area you may want to check your local Freecycle for old tires, especially tractor tires. You are recycling and they make GREAT planters. My grandmother use old tires on her farm for flower beds, which may be preferable to food if you are worried about leaching.

Pots and Pans – Often times you can get dirt cheap pots and pans at thrift stores and they make great planters if you drill some drainage holes.

Bath Tubs and Sinks – Got and old bath tub or sink and don’t know what to do with it. They make great raised beds!

Wheel Barrels and Wagons – If you have a broken wheel barrel or kid’s wagon they can be retired to the garden.

Coat Rack – If you have an old coat rack to spare or happen to find one at a thrift store they are great in the garden for hanging plants and bird feeders.

Old Appliances – An old stove makes a great patio planter. Open the door and place on it and any pots and pans planters can go on the burners. Make sure to hang a sign overhead that says “Open Range”.

Wooden crates – These can be easy to find at yard sales and thrift stores and they make great planters.

What unusual planter ideas have you come across?

  • Great ideas! I really like the one for using a coat rack for hanging plants. We’ve found lots of old metal tubs at antique stores. We’ve used egg cartons for starting seeds too.

  • Karen

    Cat Litter Tubs!–Not pretty, but free large containers. I don’t have a yard, so all my vegetables this year are in cat litter tubs. I also use my cat litter tubs as containers for my dirty cloth diapers, the bucket for my homemade laundry detergent and anything else I need in a large or air tight container.

  • I have a few concerns. First of all, tin cans, i personally, don’t eat anything that comes out of a tin can, due to aluminum poisoning and buildup, it has been linked (for decades) to alzhiemers. (my mother was a geriatric nurse and has known about this for my whole lifetime.)

    The second is, unless you know exactly where your tires come from, they could be leeching chemicals out into the food, mostly the soft skinned foods. I can’t remember right now what the poison is called, but google unsafe tire leeching.

    Okay, this is my two cents, literally!
    happy gardening!

    • Good points Mary, I wouldn’t grow food in a regular tire, probably only a tractor tire with the food being far away from the edges of the tire, perhaps with flowers around it.

  • My cousin grew corn one year in a little blue recycling box;
    My old roommate sewed a pair of penny loafers together and grew rosemary and chicks&hens in them (so adorable!).
    I have used trash cans from the dollar store, kitty littler bins (I’m conflicted because I support that my brand of kitty litter wants to use less material and thus has switched to heavy duty bags, but dang those bins were handy), colanders (which come complete with drainage holes), baskets (which will disintegrate over time but if you keep them on a plate that’s not too much of a problem), and milk jugs with the top cut off.

    I also save the cheep plastic containers that a lot of starter plants come in, just because they are too small for the plant they come with doesn’t mean I can’t use the planter to start some seeds.

  • haha we just started recycling my son’s formula cans for seed containers.

    love all these great ideas!

  • Brittany

    If you eat coconuts you can use the coconut halves for some flowers, those plastic ice cream buckets, I don’t personally buy them but have ended up with few make good pots too..

  • Always fantastic to re-use stuff, but be sure to consider the possible ill effects of using things that may be hazardous for human consumption. When it’s not smart to use certain materials, such as tin cans or rubber tires, for vegetable plantings that end up in someone’s mouth and digestive tract, it may still be okay to use some of these materials as containers for flowers. Re-use is an excellent conservation strategy!

  • The most unusual recycle planters I’ve seen was a friend of mine had turned an old fishing boat & kayak (that were no longer float worthy) and turned them into beautiful raised beds in her backyard. She even had some tiny succulents growing in a child’s metal wagon.

  • Mrs.M

    My mom always used tin cans in her gardens. But she opened both ends, submerged them around the planted seed…they kept out certain pesks without using sprays, powders, etc.
    Great ideas!

  • Deano

    I have two old wooden ladders that are great for elevating planters.
    Some years back I picked up a couple discarded wooden spools emptied of heavy cable from the utility co. I used them for tables — they come in all sizes. This week I cut a flat surface off both ends and sawed out a slat from the core. I packed the core with soil and transplanted some decorative grass into it. I’m hoping to move it around as background to other plants.

  • Pam

    I’ve used a washtub with an old wringer attatched, and my childhood wheelbarrow.This one kept tipping over, so I tipped it over and planted it that way.
    One yard i town has an old gas grill used as a planter and an old crib as a fenced in area.

  • patti

    those plastic beer cups are great for starting seeds in and very cheap too.

  • kama

    I’ve always wanted to have a toilet with flowers growing out of it, but I can’t convince my husband yet. (Plus I DO NOT have a green thumb.) I’ve also seen a really cute painted desk with plants growing out of the drawers circulating on pinterest.