Bored with the pots you use for container gardening? This summer, refresh your landscape and boost your curb appeal with our fun ideas for container gardens.

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When I got my first apartment, with just a tiny concrete pad for a patio and not a speck of rich loam in sight, I did what seemed natural and right: I bought myself a big terra cotta pot and planted tomatoes.

My living circumstances have since changed—now I’m fortunate enough to have flower beds, shrubs and trees, a vegetable garden, and a compost pile—but I can guarantee you I still have the same terracotta pot, or some variation of it.

Container gardening is the ultimate garden leveller for all of us, no matter where we live.

Even so, I’ve found myself turning to those terra cotta pots less and less. In place of them, I’ve been using alternative containers that reflect my personality and gardening style, accent the architecture of my home, and complement my yard. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of ideas—we’ve got 50 of them.


5. Metal bucket: Old metal buckets can be had for a song at flea markets. Give yours a good scrub and drill a couple of drainage holes. Train a vine up the handle (hold it in place with a narrow bamboo pole).

6. Wheelbarrow: A discarded wheelbarrow filled with plants is an excellent way to accent a cottage-style garden.

7. Wagon: Plastic or metal, wagons offer a flexible bonus if the wheels still work: You can move them at will. Try a mini water garden in the wagon (no holes needed, of course).

8. Plastic containers: Great for a kids’ container garden, a collection of old plastic vessels like sand toys can be grouped for a casual planting collection.


9. Homemade hypertufa: Hypertufa is a lightweight combination of Portland cement, perlite, and peat moss; it’s an easy DIY (google “homemade hypertufa” for instructions) that can be cast in any mould.

10: Bricks: Although bricks need to be mortared together to provide a water-tight container, they can easily be dry-stacked around a hum-drum container (think plain plastic container) to add a decorative touch to plantings.

11. Wooden boxes: Lining biodegradable items such as wooden boxes helps preserve them for longer use and keeps potting soil contained.


12. Painted containers: Paint is a great way to transform virtually any container into a one-of-a-kind element that matches the landscape or accents on your home.

13. Wine crates: Many vessels such as wine crates won’t need formal drainage holes as long as the wooden elements have spacing. Use plastic lining (with holes cut in) or cocoa mat to prevent loss of dirt.

14. Metal tool tote/toolbox: Typically long and narrow, a metal tote also has a handle, making it easy to transport once filled with blooms.


15. Purse: Once you are done using a purse, transform it into a container for plants with shallow roots, such as succulents.

16. Colander: Plastic or metal, a colander has built-in drainage holes and can be used on a tabletop for a centrepiece, too.

17. Ceramic or tin pitcher: Drill holes and use an old pitcher to dress up a tabletop or entryway.

18. Apple boxes: Like wine boxes, apple boxes may be wide enough in construction to eliminate the need for drainage holes. If you line one with plastic, cut holes for water and air to circulate.


19. Wooden bottle carrier: Separate compartments allow you to create a themed display, such as a herb or annual garden.

20. Vintage washbasin: Many washbasins are already elevated on legs, giving them height often lacking in other container gardens.

21. Mosaic planters: Broken glass tile is unique to dress up an ordinary container garden.

22. Old Toys: Like a dump truck, it can add character to a garden. The dump truck’s bed can be a perfect place to house small plants.


23. Baskets: To protect baskets—often made of biodegradable reeds—line them with plastic.

24. Birdbath: Low and shallow-rooted plants, as well as trailing vines, do well in the wide berth of a birdbath.

25. Water trough: Deep enough for big-rooted plants such as ornamental grasses, a water trough can also serve as a focal point; accent it with smaller metal or coloured containers.


26. Old sink: A ceramic sink makes a great cottage or casual garden find. Prop on the ground or display on a shelf next to a shed.

27. Half wine barrel: It’s a classic choice and for a good reason. These oversized barrels offer plenty of room for a collection of mid-size and larger plants. Lined, they can also be used as water gardens.

28. Non-functioning fountain: The material may determine whether you can drill holes in a non-functioning fountain, but the tiers offer a great way to display cascading vines.


29. Drainage tiles: Secure square tiles with fixed metal brackets to make a pretty vintage container garden.

30. Plastic bucket: A plastic bucket can be dressed up with paint and planted with colourful flowers for a container garden.

31. Ladder: Not technically a container, an old metal or wooden ladder is an interesting way to display a collection of vibrant, coloured containers.

32. Old drawers: Score some cast-off vintage finds and tuck them on retaining walls for an unusual planting method.


33. Metal urns: Elevate tall containers such as this to add height and drama to container plantings.

34. Metal bike and basket: Much like a wire basket, you can line a bike basket with a cocoa hull mat and the bike propped against a shed.

35. Rubber boots: Rainboots often come with their own decorative motifs. Place a few in a cottage-style garden or hang several from rungs to dress up a fence.

36. Rubber tires: On their own, tires—especially oversized versions—are dull and dreary. Apply a bright coat of paint and cluster a few together and on top of one another, and you can create a cascading collection of blooms.


37. Crockery: Although some crocks can be expensive, others—particularly those with imperfections—may make good container gardens, particularly for dwarf trees or ornamental grasses.

38. Fabric covered pots: Any old pot can be decorated with strips and scraps of fabric; use craft glue and keep the material about one inch from the bottom of the pot.

39. Old canisters: What once held flour and sugar can now hold flowers and herbs.


40. Paint cans: Purchase new, empty paint cans for a streamlined metal container that’s a great contemporary accent.

41. Muffin tins: Collect miniature succulents and plant them in a discarded muffin tin.

42. Teacups and pots: A delicate jeweller’s drill bit will help drive a just-right drainage hole in these fragile containers. Try a collection for a porch-perfect centrepiece.


43. Mid-size to large plastic food containers: Grow a collection of herbs in a few big yogurt tubs (cleaned and thoroughly washed).

44. Concrete blocks: Turn those concrete blocks on their sides and use the two openings for small-scale container plantings.

45. Coffee tin: Colorful vintage finds equal personality-driven container plantings. Or, strip the labels off ordinary versions for pretty tabletop options.

46. Old metal watering cans: Look for options with wide tops and train vines to run up the spouts.


47. Enamelware pots: Sturdy enamelware will need drainage holes, but the bright colours of some pots add a pretty accent to container collections.

48. Plumbing pipes: Very wide tubes can be cut down and clustered together for a visually exciting twist on container plantings.

49. Strawberry jar: Although typically used to grow red berries, you can use strawberry jars to nurture other growers, such as herbs.

50. Bread pans: Metal bread pans may be narrow enough to fit on a windowsill, making them a good container garden to bring inside once the weather cools.

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