19 Brilliant Upcycled Garden Containers to Cut Waste and Grow Goodness

By Bethany Johnson in Thinking Sustainably

If you’ve ever considered growing your own herbs, veggies, or flowers, a container garden is the perfect way to dabble. Not only does it eliminate many of the common gardening frustrations like frost, weeds, and rabbits, but the plants are portable. If they need more sunshine or less wind, you can easily adapt.

The smartest, most economical pots for your plants aren’t pots—they’re receptacles that, in another life, had a different purpose. Here are nineteen brilliant ideas for upcycled garden containers to cut waste and cultivate some goodness.

1. An Old Wheelbarrow

Perfect for shallow roots, an old wheelbarrow is a great option for edible freshies like spinach, garlic, scallions, and red radishes.

2. Grandma’s Old Birdcage

Morning glory and other flowering spillers love being planted in lose cages and hung high to grow downward.

3. Cinder Blocks

Upend one cinder block to make two containers, side by side.

4. Retired Livestock Drinking Trough

If you ever see a roadside sign that says “Farm Equipment Sale,” hang a U-turn and stop by!

5. An Old Toy Dump Truck

If the farm sale doesn’t pan out, take over your child’s outgrown excavation machinery for a new type of growth.

6. Boots

Repurpose footwear too “far gone” to donate or swap, and make it home to a plant of its former owner’s choosing.

Upcycled garden containers, like this odd used boot, cut waste and cultivate plants.

7. Vintage Wash Tub

Those old-fashioned basins speak to the nostalgic romantic in all of us.

8. Mom’s Retro Bird Bath

This is another solution for your shallow-rooted plants. Just be sure not to confuse any winged regulars, who might wonder why their shower station is full of soil.

9. Overturned Tractor Tire

My great-grandmother’s neighborhood is full of gigantic tires used as upcycled garden containers. Have you ever spotted one?

10. Old Watering Can

A spider plant or pansies setting up home and flourishing in a watering can is sure to add a touch of whimsy to your garden.

Upcycled garden containers, like this tin watering can, cut waste and cultivate plants.

Upcycled garden containers, like this tin watering can, cut waste and cultivate plants.

11. Resale Shop Tea Kettle

The handle on a tea kettle adds a charming touch to leafy greens.

12. Secondhand Scooter

Before putting plants on the scooter’s foot pad, decorate it with cute puns like, “I’m growing places” or “Touch and Grow.”

Upcycled garden containers, like this vintage scooter, cut waste and cultivate plants.

13. Classic Child’s Wagon

A wagon is better suited for decorative plants than it is for edibles, so fill it with thrillers (spike plants, blue salvia, or snake’s tongue), fillers (impatiens, lantana, or dusty miller), and spillers (sweet potato vine, ivy, or caladium).

14. Hollowed-Out Rocking Chair

Broken chairs are often sent to the landfill while there’s still plenty of life left in them. Salvage one or two and hollow out the seat to feature a new veggie plant or two. The spindles are perfect for climbing cucumbers.

Upcycled garden containers, like these reused chairs, cut waste and cultivate plants.

Upcycled garden containers, like these reused chairs, cut waste and cultivate plants.

15. Thrift Store China Tea Cups

One word: succulents!

Among other creative ideas, teacups make the perfect upcycled garden containers.

16. Repurposed Coffee Can

If you go through as much coffee as my family does, you’ll have a steady supply of these for plentiful upcycled containers to cultivate a portable garden.

17. Vintage Wine Crate

Local winemakers often discard or donate used wine boxes. Using a green tea stain, distress one and plant your choice of herbs, veggies, or flowers.

18. Used Glass Jar

Don’t toss that spaghetti sauce jar just yet. It makes a great container for windowsill herbs. Simply fill 1/3 with colorful rocks for drainage, then plant flowers, herbs, or aloe with potting soil and display near-natural sunlight.

Upcycled garden containers, like this reused glass jar, cut waste and cultivate plants.

19. Upright Silverware Caddy

A flatware organizer has a perfect number of openings for herbs to grow, so you always have fresh ingredients for your summer recipes.

By now, your mental wheels are turning. What’s headed to the landfill at your house today? Can it be repurposed and given new life as an addition to your upcycled container garden? Add to our list by tweeting your own ideas to @TomsofMaine.

Image Source: Bethany Johnson

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Cultivating plants is therapeutic. Battling weeds, pests, and weather? Not so much. Container gardens offer the perfect solution, and when you use recycled containers to hold your plants, you do more than eliminate weeding and worrying—you also cut waste by giving new life to a container that otherwise would have been headed to the landfill. Now that's uplifting.