Ways to Upcycle Household Items into Planters


Do you spot everyday household items and imagine how great they would look if you re-purposed them for your yard? To get started, peruse these ideas and see where your imagination takes you.

Give Your Kids the Boot

If your brood keeps outgrowing rain boots faster than they can be replaced, why not fasten a selection of them along your fence and fill each one with dirt and plantings? This fun idea can be taken one step further if you nail a thick rope along the fence and use clothespins to hang each boot out to dry.

Hitch Your Garden to a Wagon

Outgrown but still beloved, the little red wagon your children couldn’t get enough of is wasting away in the attic looking forlorn. Give it a new life by drilling holes into the interior to provide water drainage and sealing the wagon with a thick coating of waterproofing sealant. Either fill it with soil for direct planting or turn the wagon into a container garden.

Recycle Those Old Toys

If you’ve little room to display your plants but you want to add some serious decorative impact to a windowsill or patio furniture, the trucks, cars and boats your children have outgrown can earn you serious innovation credibility if you fill them with starter plants and let all of those discarded toys morph into fun focal points.

Light up the Night with Plants

The rustic but intriguing chandeliers you keep passing up at yard sales, thrift shops, and junk yards deserve a second look. Install a decorative hook on the ceiling of your patio and hang the fixture after you’ve planted each of the sconces with greenery. Once established, vines will flow over the sides and produce a dramatic overhead focal point that can be enhanced by weaving strings of white holiday lights around the chandelier.

Chest of Fleurs

If an old chest of drawers is too beaten up to donate to a charity, turn it into a planter after covering the interior and exterior with a coating of lacquer to weatherproof the chest. The secret behind making a top-to-bottom plant display is pulling the bottom drawer all the way out and opening the other drawers just enough to create a staircase shape. Fill with pots of plants and turn a doomed chest into a treasure.

Take a Seat…

Turn a old wood chair frame into a cool planter. Either leave the weathered wood as is and coat with shellac to weatherize it or paint the frame a vivid color and lower a pot filled with flowers into the seat center. You may have to create a “cradle” for the pot if it’s smaller than the rim, but that’s when your macramé or weaving skill will come in handy.

Packing for Plants

Turn a old-fashioned suitcase into a planter. Prop the suitcase open using wood dowels nailed to the back side so the suitcase remains permanently open. Line the interior with plastic sheeting and fill the interior with a selection of potted plants that allows the tallest of them to pop up from the back of the suitcase so every leaf and bloom can be fully appreciated.

Make a Colander Mobile

Browse second hand stores for an eclectic assortment of old colanders and turn them into a piece of living art work by hanging them at different levels from a section of weathered wood. Use chain to add stability and long life to the mobile and once erected, fill each colander interior with a selection of plants. You won’t have drainage issues each time you water.

Bicycle Built for Two (or More)

Turn your stationary bicycle into a clever planter. Fill the handlebar basket with a selection of potted plants, perch a pot atop the seat and fill saddle bags on either side of the rear tire with more plantings. Park the bike in the middle of your garden and expect to gather plenty of compliments.

Swing into Bloom

Who says you can’t hang a roomy swing from the tree in your yard and turn it into a hanging garden? Whether the swing you hang is nothing more than a length of wood or the plastic swing that delighted your little ones has been abandoned, both are candidates for renewal when filled with plants and allowed to invoke lots of nostalgia every time you recall their original use.


Relocate your old tub to your yard and turn it into one big container garden that’s already got a drainage feature so watering and draining is a no brainer. Paint the tub’s exterior if you crave an accent color or leave it as is. Hang a towel over the side for a touch of humor.

Sew, Sew clever

The old treadle sewing machine that has amassed more spider webs than you ever thought possible begs to be reclaimed as a garden platform that turns charming whether it is filled with plants alone or a vintage crate or tin washtub is placed atop the unit to corral the plants. One innovative homeowner paired her treadle sewing machine base with a reclaimed window, turning the framed pane into a platform for an assortment of plants.

Old Jeans = Plant Pedestals

It’s going to take a serious amount of stuffing material to turn a couple of old pairs of jeans into plant pedestals, but the fun result is worth taking the time to become a quasi-taxidermist! The secret to stable jeans pedestals is armatures that provide the stability within the stuffing and you’ll need to “plant” the bottoms of each metal brace into a shoe, so torsos and legs are stable. Slabs of wood or plastic cover waist areas to provide a platform for potted plants.

A Doorway into an Arbor

Two old doors—the weathered, the better—form the sides of an impromptu arbor stabilized by slabs of wood that bridge the gap. You’ll need extra bracing beneath each door for stability, but once constructed, this unusual arbor not only gives new life to old doors but showcases all manner of potted plants that fill the arbor roof and hang from the doors. Add strings of lights to create a show-stopping fixture for your yard.


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