Don’t have the time or money to buy a new pot or build a garden bed?  It’s much easier than you may think to find the perfect container without costing an arm and a leg!  If you’re not in the habit of finding ‘new ways with old things,’ read on to find out why you should consider reusing what you’ve already got. Repurposed planters may be just the solution.


Twinings Tea Tin Windowsill Planters - Items you might otherwise throw away can be useful plant containers instead. | The Micro Gardener

These quaint little metal Twinings vintage tea tins have been reused as small herb pots. They make a cute set of windowsill planters. To avoid rust damage, sit metal tins on a tray to catch water from the drainage holes.


1. Save money/make money

Turning ‘trash into treasure is one sure way to be thrifty in the garden.  If you don’t have to buy a container, you can keep your money in your purse for plants or other garden supplies you really need to buy. Being creative with your hands and making attractive, affordable planters, potting benches and unique pots for other gardeners may also be a niche market to make money or raise funds for a worthy project.

2. Reduce landfill and ease your conscience

In our ‘throw away’ society, many people never stop to think about giving new life to an object that appears to be ready for the rubbish tip.  Stop!  Think about the shape of the container and ask yourself ‘Can I add drainage holes?’ or ‘Can I use this as a cache pot?’ Large items in particular like BBQ trolleys, chairs and furniture take up a huge amount of space in landfill but can easily be turned into useful planters or potting benches.


Potting bench with repurposed window - Furniture items often take up a huge amount of space in landfill but when refashioned into useful items are far more environmentally friendly. | The Micro Gardener

An old window frame has been repurposed with some other salvaged materials into this practical potting bench for the garden.


3. Add loads of character to your garden

Many people spend a lot of money to buy unique, one-off pieces at expensive garden centres and nurseries to decorate and add character to their garden.  Frugal gardeners however, know you can achieve the same effect with a little creative thinking and often a splash of paint, polish or artistic flair!

A colour-coordinated collection of assorted planters in different shades of blue & filled with colourful geraniums. | The Micro Gardener

Add a little artistic flair in the garden by clever use of colour – 500ml sample paint pots have more than enough paint to cover several plant containers in matching colours at minimal cost.


4. Create a unique design theme

Think about what YOU love – and turn this into your personalised garden theme.  Do you have a favourite colour?  Like rustic farm or garden tools?  Garden art?  A particular plant species?  Do you have an old collection of unused items that could be turned into planters?


While old enamel kitchenware may not be as fashionable as it once was, it can be very useful and add loads of character in the garden. | The Micro Gardener

Here a collection of old enamel and metal containers in silver and white have been grouped together and reused as planters with great effect.


Once you decide what is missing in your garden, you can add a little creativity by incorporating your hobby, art, collection, favourite colour or plants into your garden space. Just start sorting out or collecting old items, going through your garage or attic, and saving objects you would have otherwise thrown away. There are so many items that lend themselves to repurposed planters.



5. Make great use of vertical space

If you’re cramped for space, growing ‘up’ with some clever repurposed space-savers is an ideal way to get more plants in your garden. For example, an old piece of lattice, a gate or shelf can be repurposed into useful wall or bracket-mounted hanging space for plants.


Pots on a repurposed shelf make most of vertical space, are easily accessible and add charm to the house exterior.| The Micro Gardener

An old piece of timber and a pair of brackets have been refashioned into a useful vertical growing space for pots.


6. Find an outlet for creativity

Some people find repurposing containers totally addictive!  Making old things new or painting a mis-matched collection of items in the same colour can make you look like a pro garden designer with very little effort.  It’s also a great way to make home-made gifts.

Succulents in basket are a low maintenance garden to give a friend. | The Micro Gardener

There’s no better hand-made gift than to ‘give a garden’ in a repurposed planter. This basket has excellent drainage and makes a perfect partner for low-maintenance succulents.


7. Teach children not to waste valuable resources

Kids thrive when given some creative space.  Give them the opportunity to make their own garden with the simplest of containers like old tin cans, shoes and toys.  They’ll take to it like a duck to water.  When they grow out of those gumboots or break a toy, give them the chance to re-purpose it into a new garden!

These colourful pots have found new life after being repurposed from tin cans.

Tin cans from the pantry would normally end up in the bin but can make cute flower pots or mini planters especially for children. A great craft project and a micro garden small enough for a windowsill.


Make it their own exciting little project to work on.  With a little paint, patience and imagination, children can invent their own ingenious ways to save resources and grow their own garden.

Leading by example we can teach valuable lessons to children about reusing instead of being wasteful.

“The most important lesson is teaching children how to re-use items instead of being wasteful and always expecting something new.”


8. Inspire others to do the same

Not everyone can picture what they can do with what they’ve got – so help them out!  Invite friends, family and neighbours over to share your creative ideas and inspire them to get started on their own repurposed garden project.

Find a friend – be inventive, share resources and go shopping at garage sales and op shops together.  Many retired people have spare time and would love to share their skills and have a bit of company while making planters with others.  Start a ‘Repurposed Garden Group’!

Funky repurposed planters can be great fund-raisers too so think about opportunities to make something unique and raise money for your local school, community organisation or project.


9. Create a design feature

Many gardens, especially micro gardens fail to make the most of the space they have.  They are often missing a special feature to draw the eye, become a focal point for the garden or even when looking from inside out.  Put your artistic hat on, stand back from different angles and try to imagine what the space needs.

Holding your hands out in front of you to make the shape of a miniature square ‘frame’ like a camera often helps!  What can you see inside the ‘frame?’ Maybe a tall container is needed where everything else is low-growing.  Perhaps a vertical ladder with plants on the rungs would draw the attention to a feature wall or an unusual container in the centre of the garden may become a conversation point.

Make the most of small spaces by looking for items that will allow you to plant 'up.'

An old ladder may no longer be safe for human use but it may be perfect against a wall as a vertical garden feature.


10. Support a local charity or cause

Many unique containers and little hidden gems can be discovered at places like op shops, charity organisations, garage sales and school fetes.  These are spots you can often find a treasure trove of bargains and feel good about spending a few dollars with a charity or cause that really needs it.  Think ‘win-win!’


Have these ideas inspired you to start making your own repurposed planters?  If so, please leave a comment, share your ideas and photos to show others what you’ve done.  We can all learn from each other.  Check out other container ideas here and pick up some tips for growing container gardens.


Want more photos and tips?  Check out these clever plant container ideas, tips on frugal gardening, thrifty recycling ideas for the garden and more inspiring repurposed containers.



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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2016. https://themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.

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