Why, Yes! It IS a Recycled Planter!

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Below is a guest post by Josh Andrews, who enjoys writing about gardens, plants and home. Checkout his blog at hurricanes08.org

Don’t you just love it when you can keep from throwing something away? With my love of gardening, and the all-too-rare sunshine we’ve had for a couple of days, my thoughts are turning to ways in which I can get a head start on spring, and recycle planters, too. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with for recycled planters, and a few I picked up from friends.

recycled planter
An old washing machine drum lives on in the garden.

Washing Machine Drums

Forget those raised planters – try a washing machine drum! It is perfect for planting, because it has drain holes all over it, and it holds a TON of plants. Some washing machine drums are recyclable as metal or plastic, but they can live on in your garden as home to your tomato plants. The strong roots of tomatoes and corn need a strong container, and this is the perfect use for some of the remains of your old washing machine.

With some vintage washing machines it is also possible to use the whole machine! I learned this from my wife’s grandfather, who grew up during the Great Depression and never threw anything away.


In looking for creative ways to label plants in my herb garden, I came across a great idea for broken pots. I hate to throw away shards of pots, even the cheap plastic ones that shatter after a hard winter. I usually keep the shards and put them in the bottom of new pots to help with drainage. Terracotta shards often have a nice patina, and I hate waste a chance to show off patina. So, I got out my paint pens and wrote the names of each herb on the various pieces.

Placed around the base of plants, or at the end of rows, this organic touch is beautiful, and makes a great use of “trash.”

recycled planter
Write the names of plants on pieces of broken terracotta shards and use them as labels.

Galvanized Metal

I love galvanized metal of any kind – old watering cans, minnow buckets, wash-tubs  – you name it, I can turn it into a planter. The more holes it has, and the more rust, the prettier it is to me. When my parents cleaned out their garage, they found an old minnow bucket we had used on family fishing trips. I turned it into two planters.

One is the inset that actually held the minnows, with the flap-top and perforated sides. The other is the bucket that would hold the inset, with the company logo on it. I have the inset on my patio table with English ivy and a red geranium. Inside, the bucket is home to a pothos ivy on a small trellis made from an old, broken fishing pole.

Retire that Laptop as a Recycled Planter

Ok, this isn’t my idea, but I’m going to steal it someday. A friend of mine retired and took an old laptop he had used. He’s not crazy enough to sacrifice a working computer, but he had salvaged the keyboard for use in another laptop. That left the shell and screen of his old laptop. He packed it with potting soil and planted creeping jenny in it. It now sits open on his patio table, reminding him that he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to.

Lawn Equipment as Recycled Planters

You may have seen gardens in which the homeowner has put rocks down instead of grass, and placed an old rotary lawn mower out with a sign that says “Rust in Peace.” I stole this idea too, in a way.

We had an old wheelbarrow that had rusted out, so I’m helping it rust out some more. I put a thick padding of straw in the bottom to keep the dirt from falling through the holes, filled it with potting soil, and now it’s my strawberry patch! I love it, and my spouse isn’t threatening to throw it out with the rubbish anymore.

Who needs to purchase expensive statuary for their garden? I have focal points placed artistically throughout my garden, with beautiful plants that draw the eye and invite people to roam throughout. I love my recycled planters, and so do my guests and family members.

Now it’s your turn- steal these ideas and make your own recycled planter!

Photos: Valerie Everett, garycycles

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