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Repurposed Garden Planters: Recycling Ideas for Indoor and Outdoor Gardens

Updated on September 10, 2016
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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Many of the ideas that I share here can be customized to fit indoor or outdoor gardens. Consider your space, preferences, and plants when choosing and customizing recycled items for your gardening. Additionally, always make sure that you consider a method for creating drainage holes. It is relatively easy to poke holes in thin materials, such as some types of plastic, while you will need to drill holes in other materials, such as rubber and metal. Happy gardening!

Tins, Jars, Baskets, and Containers

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http://www.ideastosteal.com/2011/05/kreativ-planting-gjenbruk/ - no longer active
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http://www.ideastosteal.com/2011/05/kreativ-planting-gjenbruk/ - no longer active
http://www.ideastosteal.com/2011/05/kreativ-planting-gjenbruk/ - no longer active
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There really is no limit to the number of different jars and containers that you can use for gardening. Suggestions that I've found include:

  • coffee cans
  • wine bottles
  • baby wipe boxes (with the tops cut off)
  • mason jars
  • tin cans
  • plastic soda bottles
  • metal soda cans
  • egg cartons
  • baby food jars
  • detergent boxes
  • bleach bottles
  • plastic milk jugs
  • cat litter buckets
  • any number of plastic food containers (peanut butter jars, yogurt cups, etc.)

Make sure that you clean the containers well before filling them with dirt.

How to Make a Hanging Herb Planter Using Recycled Soda Bottles | Mike Lieberman

Recycled Paper

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Options for recycled papers to use for planters include:

  • newspaper
  • paper towel rolls
  • toilet paper rolls

If you use newspaper, stick to black and white pages. Colored inks may contain toxins, whereas black inks are made from soy and safe to use around foods.

Planting Flower Bulbs in Containers : Using Recycled Materials to Plant Flower Bulbs | Expert Village

Kitchen, Garden, and Misc. Household Items

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Colanders already have holes for drainage.
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Colanders already have holes for drainage.
Colanders already have holes for drainage. | Source
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There are a number of practical, easy to find kitchen and garden items that make great planters. If you're getting ready to get rid of one of these items, consider saving it for your garden. Alternatively, start scouting garage sales and thrift stores. Options include, but are not limited to:

  • colanders
  • mugs
  • tea pots
  • oil cans and bottles
  • pots and pans
  • canvas coffee bean bags
  • metal wash tubs and water troughs
  • shower curtains
  • old planters (Did your plant die? You can still reuse the planter!)
  • paint cans
  • wheelbarrows

Furniture

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Who knew that furniture could have such potential as garden planters? Just a few popular furniture pieces for planters include:

  • chairs
  • dresser drawers
  • whole dressers
  • night stands
  • filing cabinets

If you enjoy acquiring and refinishing furniture, this can be a fun option. It's amazing how a simple wood refinishing job and/or coat of spray pan can transform an old piece.

Citrus Peels

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Do you start seedlings indoors? Citrus peels are one options for starter pots. Lemon, orange, lime, and grapefruit peels all work well. Simply poke a hole in the peel before you fill it with soil.

Tires / Wheels

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There are a handful of ways that you can use old tires, including bike tires, for planters. There are several methods for planting in whole tires as well as several methods for crafting tires into planters. I love that many people include details and designs from the original tires in the planter designs that involved slicing the tires. This effort gives the pots a lot of character.

Bricks and Cement Blocks

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I actually bought my first cement blocks to serve as tent weights for an outdoor craft fair. I couldn't believe that they were so inexpensive. Even if you do not have old blocks on hand, this is still a very affordable planter. You can purchase them at just about any home improvement store. There are a variety of sizes and types (i.e. different number of holes) available. Alternatively, you can pour your own planters with recycled plastic containers (i.e. ice cream tubs, large butter containers, etc.) and cement that you mix at home. I have included a couple tutorials for this process in the resources below.

Give new life to your repurposed planters with spray paint.

Gutters and Pipes

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Gutters and Pipes

This is another concept that never would have occurred to me. Gutters that are no longer suitable for your house will most likely work just fine as planters. The same is true for old pipes, including sewer pipes and PVC pipes.

Toys

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The Etsy shop that made these little guys is no longer around, but the idea is still really cute. If you're looking for a way to recycle some of your kid's plastic toys, consider giving this a try. Many plastic animals are hollow so as long as you can drill holes accurately and safely, you should be good to go.





Footwear

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Who knew, right? When your kids outgrow their shoes or your boots wear out, turn them into planters. Crocs are an easy planter because they already have drainage holes. Rubber rain boots are another good choice, as it is relatively easy to drill holes. All of the photos that I had found shoes hanging or suspended, but there is no reason to feel limited to these options.

Light Bulbs and Light Fixtures

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Until I started reading craft blogs regularly, I had no idea that there were so many ways to repurpose old light bulbs. Some people simply hollow out single bulbs and use them for small planters while other people find ways to use entire light fixtures. If you do choose to hollow out bulbs, please read all of the instructions carefully and follow the safety precautions.

Books

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The creative ideas just keep coming! This is another excellent choice for anyone who enjoys books, reading in general, and/or thrifting. There is no shortage of old books at just about any second hand store. Look for hardcover books in decent condition that are sizable enough to cut a hole for planting. Make sure that you line your book holes with plastic before adding dirt.

How to Make a Planter From a Recycled Book | Curbly

Wood Palettes, Crates, and Boxes

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You can repurpose just about any type of old wood into a planter. There are a variety of wood palettes, crates, and boxes out that work well. If you don't already have a good source for these materials, check with your local grocery stores. Many stores are happy to donate palettes and boxes from deliveries that they don't need anymore.

© 2012 Rose Clearfield

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    • kelleyward 4 years ago

      Loved it once again. I really like taking several of the great ideas I find online and putting them together in one place like you did here. Voted up! Take care, Kelley

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      I LOVE the lightbulb idea and the citrus slice! Awesome, bookmarked, voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and of course shared!

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 4 years ago from California

      These are all INCREDIBLE ideas. I am going to share this article with several friends that are interested in both gardening and taking advantage of all the "junk" in the world.

      I am likely going to use some of these myself. Thanks for writing!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Kelley! I'm really glad that this format appeals to you. I found a couple similar articles for this topic, but both of them had a lot of outdated links. I love that you can keep everything updated on HubPages.

      Thanks so much Daughter of Maat! I'm glad that you found some ideas here that you like, and I always appreciate the shares.

      Robert Erich, thanks! I appreciate the shares, and I'm glad that you can use some of these ideas yourself, too.

    • DeanCash profile image

      DeanCash 4 years ago

      ha ha ha this is very cool - I will share. Thank you

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Dean!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

      These are some of the cutest ideas for recycled garden containers that I've ever seen! I LOVE the Crocs and the rubber boots used as planters! Voted up, shared and Pinned!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much Stephanie!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 4 years ago from Iowa

      What great ideas. I repurpose stuff all the time to start seeds for my garden, including paper towel rolls and those plastic clamshell containers that cupcakes come in, but I've never thought to use repurposed items as a permanent home for my plants. I will try some of these ideas! Awesome hub.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Deb! Reusing clamshell containers from bakeries or grocery stores is a great idea for seed starting. Thanks for sharing that!

    • SplendidLIttleStars 4 years ago

      some very creative planters!

      Nothing is safe from being planted in!

      excellent!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      These are so cool. You have really got me thinking. I'm ready to go rummaging through the basement and garage to look for neat planters. These are inspiring to be be creative and what a great way to recycle. I vote up and AWESOME!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Margaret, thanks!

      Rebecca, have fun hunting in your basement and garage! Thanks. :)

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

      I love the toy and Croc planters. So quirky and ridiculously cute!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Om! Yes, for sure!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Well, the orange and the book planters are in the top 5, but that doesn't leaver room for all the rest to be up there with them and they should be! Reading the comments is fun--nothing is safe from being planted in, indeed! :)

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks RTalloni! I agree that there are some great comments here!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      These ideas for pots are so neat! I really do wich I had more of a green thumb. I especially like the teapot vase as I am a big tea drinker :) I vote up!

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I loved this hub! There are so many creative and cute ideas in here. I am definitely going to try some making some seedling pots out of empty paper tower rolls!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Christy, thanks! I don't have much of a green thumb either, but I am a tea drinker. :)

      savingkathy, thanks! Good luck with your seedling pots.

    • BethDW 4 years ago

      I am addicted to your hubs! So many awesome and creative ideas! I recently moved into a basement apartment, without a ton of space and I'm wanting to bring some plants into it to lighten it up a bit...this hub has given me so many great ideas! Voted up and shared!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Beth! That means a lot to me. Good luck with your plants in your new apartment!

    • DigbyAdams 4 years ago

      What a fantastic array of suggestions. I have several geek friends who are going to get planters made from computer disks for Christmas gifts. I have so many, it was almost depressing me. Several bookworms friends will be getting planters made out of old books. I've got plenty of those as well. You've really inspired me to think creatively about the items I have laying around the house.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Digby, that's awesome! I'm sure that your friends will love their disc and book planters.

    • slackermom profile image

      Lisa Palmer 4 years ago from Attapulgus GA

      These are some great ideas. I am currently working on my yard and trying to find easy and inexpensive ways to decorate outside so I will be using some of these ideas. Voted up and awesome.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's great, slackermom! Good luck with your yard.

    • Judy Nolan 4 years ago

      Wow! These are some really creative ideas. Visually, I liked using a chair as a planter best, but creatively speaking, I was amazed by the book planter.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Judy! I know what you mean.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Gee, what can I say??? You have SO many good ideas here, I don't know where to start. Some I certainly would never have thought of. You have such a creative mind. I like to recycle things, too. Makes me feel good to do that. I'd like to link this Hub to mine about using kitty litter buckets for plants.

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much Mary! Many of these ideas never would have occurred to me either. It always amazes me how much creativity is out there. Thanks for linking back!

    • rbm profile image

      rbm 4 years ago

      So many awesome ideas here. I'm a big fan of planting in all kinds of recycled containers myself, it's fun and feels good to do that! :) Great hub!!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks! I'm really glad that you enjoyed this.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Vicki L Hodges 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Wow, these are awesome ideas! So creative! Really, the possibilities are endless!

    • randomcreative profile image
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      Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Vicki! Yes, for sure!

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