Make Your Own Container Garden | Reader's Digest

Make Your Own Container Garden

Creative ways to use any type of container--from watering cans to metal coffee pots--as a planter.

By Kelly Staikopoulos

Whether you live in an apartment, want to dress up your home’s entry or have a space to fill in your backyard, container gardens are the way to go.

Decorative pots, watering cans or buckets can make great planters. Depending on your space, you can arrange them in groups of three or more, each displaying a different plant, for a garden you can show off anytime, anywhere.

Just about any type of container that will hold soil and can be drained will serve as a novel, eye-catching planter. Old galvanized buckets or watering cans are particularly interesting; new ones can be “aged” with wet soil to give them character.

What You Need for a Container Garden
Potting mix
Slow-release fertilizer
Range of flowering plants
Containers, such as old galvanized buckets and watering cans

What to Do
1. To give an aged look to a shiny new galvanized bucket or watering can, smear a handful of moist soil haphazardly over the surface. Let this dry and then use a gloved hand to scrape or wipe off any lumps that have stuck to the surface. Don’t wash it off or you will remove the layer that dulls the silver gloss finish of the galvanizing process.

2. If an old container is still watertight, punch two or three 1/4-inch-diameter holes in the bottom with an awl or metal punch. Cover the holes with a layer of fiberglass screening so that they don’t become clogged with potting mix or allow the mix to wash away. If the bottom of the bucket or can has disintegrated through rusting, you may want to slip a plastic pot (with drainage holes) inside to keep the soil from escaping.

3. Fill the containers with a good potting mix, add a handful of slow-release fertilizer pellets, and plant as you would any other container.

Variation: If you have a large container, such as a galvanized tub, make drainage holes and fill the bottom with several inches of gravel. Then use the container to hold a changing display of seasonal flowers — from spring bulbs to fall mums — in individual pots.

Quirky Inspirations
Hollow logs, wooden crates, metal coffee pots, or even old birdcages can be adapted to hold plants; you can attach a length of chain or weatherproof cord to the top of a birdcage to make an unusual hanging basket.

Look around the basement, garage or attic for ideas. Baskets with plastic liners and several inches of gravel can hold pots of flowers handsomely. So can large decorative tins — the kind that come full of popcorn at Christmas — if you punch holes at the bottom. A pair of brightly colored children’s rain boots — long outgrown — could also make clever containers.