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25 Creative Garden Containers
Recycle flea-market finds, wooden boxes, garden accessories, kitchen bowls and more into fun container gardens. By Stephanie Hall
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Garden on wheels
Plant a rainbow of annuals in a wagon for a portable garden. Be sure to drill a hole in the bottom of the wagon to provides drainage.
We used these annuals for a bright color mix: Horned violet (Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet Plum Velvet’), French dwarf marigold (Tagetes ‘Bonanza Orange’), Lobelia erinus ‘Riviera Midnight Blue’, variegated Swedish ivy (Plectranthus coleoides ‘Variegatus’), sunflower (Helianthus annuus ‘Big Smile’), floss flower (Ageratum houstonianum ‘Blue Danube’) and Petunia milliflora ‘Fantasy Red’.
Early spring flowers—multihued pansies planted in a hollowed-out tree stump—enhance the charm of a wooded yard.
DIY street-sign window box
Pair a vintage street sign with a salvaged container for a window box brimming with charm. See our step-by-step instructions for this project.
Plain terra-cotta garden containers gain weathered-over-time style with easy DIY techniques. Create a speckled effect, chipped charm or tough texture, then seal with a clear coat.
Instructions and resources
Give a flea-market find—an old beverage bottle case—new life as the home for tall, silvery ghost plants (Graptopetalum paraguayense) and burro’s tail (Sedum morganianum).
Turn old wine crates into DIY vegetable gardens. Line the containers with landscape fabric or black plastic with drainage holes to help retain soil and moisture.
In the back container, pretty ‘Starfire’ marigold blooms over an ‘Ozark Beauty’ strawberry patch. In the container at front, ‘Romeo’ and ‘Babette’ carrots grow behind ‘Kestrel Baby’ beets.
An old cooler holds flowering tobacco, star flower, hedgerow crane’s-bill, Helichrysum and blue daze.
Create a one-of-a-kind flower container with your broken pottery, glass and porcelain.
For this DIY garden project, start with a terra-cotta pot and gather decorative materials, such as broken dishes or glass pebbles. Click on the link below for step-by-step instructions on making the project.
Create mosaic magic in your garden
The homeowners at this Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, garden love unusual displays and containers. Here, impatiens in slow-cooker liners hang from a rope pulley.
Inexpensive baskets make cheery flower containers. Tuck in plastic or terra-cotta pots, or line the baskets with landscape fabric. We used a variety of tuberous begonias, including ‘Nonstop Apricot’, ‘Nonstop Bright Red’ and ‘Nonstop Yellow’.
A colorful arrangement blooms from this weathered concrete birdbath.
‘Pink Champagne’ rubygrass bursts like a fountain; ‘Blushing Emily’ chrysanthemums and Tiny Toes coleus offer pops of red. Green kale, yellow-green Golden Globes loosestrife and bronze ‘Dolce Crème Brulee’ coral bells round out the mix.
Create an unusual garden container from an old bicycle. Use the bike’s existing basket (or attach one) for flowers. Line the basket with moss, and fill with dirt. Make sure to allow for drainage. If your bike is in a shady area, fill with flowers such as colorful impatiens and let ferns and ivy dangle over the side.
Photo by Karyn Spencer.
Old tires become eyecatching—and colorful—flower containers on a barn or shed.
Sink of succulents
A retro sink becomes an eye-catching planter for succulents. Cover the basin with rocks and leave plug open for drainage.
Recycle a handsome toolbox into a planter. Drill holes for drainage and fill with soil and flowers.
Bring new life to an old vegetable carton with flowers. This portable garden brightens any patio or porch. Fill with sunny yellow blossoms and a pop of pink flowers.
Barrel of foliage
A sturdy half wine barrel anchors deep purple plumes of fountain grass and bright orange Tropicanna cannas blooms. Tiny flowers from firebush (Hamelia patens), lantanas and zinnias bloom in the foreground.
Transform a traditional flour jar into a handsome garden. Delicate flowers from a purple-blue petunia and ‘Sungal’ aster spill over the rim. ‘Shenandoah’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), donkeytail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites) and tricolor sage add texture.
Inexpensive drainage tiles hold a variety of small plants.
Beauty in broken items
Damaged and broken items may no longer be useful for their original purpose, but they make great garden art. Here, a damaged birdbath becomes a succulent garden. Add a base of soilless potting mix, plant with succulents and finish with a mulch of Spanish moss. Decorate with your choice of accessories, such as this candy dish planter, compass and spoon.
A vintage colander makes a great container garden—it already comes with drainage holes! This one includes parsley and polka dot plant.
Boot it up
Perfect for a small accent at your front or back door, an old shoe holds a miniature herb garden of chives, tricolor sage and thyme.
Petunias and periwinkle spill out of an old bucket. Wire the handle to a fence for an easy above-the-ground container garden.
Cream of the crop
Pack lovely seasonal hues into a repurposed antique cream separator.
The earthy colors of the antique container complement the flowers: red cockscomb celosia, yellow pansies, orange ‘Peter Pan Mix’ zinnias and ‘Deep Orange’ pansies. Fill in with greenery, such as blue fescue (Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’), ‘Pink Pewter’ lamium and rosemary.
Step it up
Turn a short stepladder into a garden focal point with a coat of bright paint, then decorate the steps with your favorite potted combinations in cans. Look for old ladders at garage and estate sales, thrift stores and flea markets.
Just the right size
An old drawer is a perfect fit for this miniature container garden and its tiny birdhouse and birdbath, garden chairs, watering can and pretty arch.
Plants in this garden include thyme spilling out of the front left corner, ‘Chocolate Chip’ ajuga behind the thyme and variegated boxwood in the back left corner. Wire vine forms the arch in the middle, and a dwarf Chamaecyparis makes an evergreen mound in the back right corner.
More miniature garden ideas
These vintage compotes’ mottled colors complement the dusty hues of succulents.
In the container at left, we paired the ruffle-leaved Mexican hens (Echeveria shaviana) with ghost plants (Graptopetalum paraguayense). On the right, a collection of hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum spp.) circles the fanned leaves of a Cotyledon spp.
Fall garden container
This wheelbarrow highlights seasonal purple mums, purple flowering kale and the purple-tinged leaves of bugleweed. ‘Fox red’ curly sedge adds a dramatic spray behind the mums. Other plants include trailing bacopa, spurge and spiky santolina.
More on container gardens
Click the links below for more container garden inspirations.
More garden project ideas