Offbeat Gardening: 10 Creative Container Ideas

It might seem a little bit early to start planning an outdoor garden, but spring is really not too far off! Now’s the time to start that garden from seed, and while you’re at it, why not do a little fantasy garden-planning, so you’ll be ready with containers when it’s time to transplant those seedlings to their outdoor homes? Sure, you can hit the home improvement store for clay pots, but you can also add a little personality to your garden by using more unusual planters made from reclaimed materials. Check out these ideas!

The Right Plants, The Right Containers for Spring

When you’re planning a container garden, you might make some different choices than if you were planting in the ground. Containers mean limited space for your plants’ roots to spread out, so you want to pick plants that don’t need a huge radius to thrive.

I’ve found that a good rule of thumb when you’re choosing your plants is to look at the seed packet and see what their spacing recommendation is to get your planter diameter. So, if a plant needs 6″ of space in a row, you’ll want a pot that’s at least 6″  wide to accommodate.

Not sure what to grow this spring? Here are a few ideas:

  • succulents – make sure the last freeze is over before you put these outside!
  • arugula
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • peas
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • green onions (scallions)
  • chives
  • onions
  • radishes
  • potatoes
  • cilantro
  • dill
  • basil

You probably noticed that these spring veggies are also foods that thrive in a fall garden, and that’s no accident. Both spring and fall have shorter days and cool evenings, so similar plants do well in both seasons.

Ready to pick out some cool containers for your spring garden? Check out the following unusual planter ideas!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by torroid

bathtub planter

1. Bathtub planter – Check out thrift stores, estate sales, and yard sales to find old bathtubs. You’ll want to drill drainage holes in the bottom before planting in your reclaimed tub.

2. Tin can planter – Tin cans make great planters, especially if they have cool printing on the outside. A 15 ounce can is good for smaller plants like herbs, and larger cans can accommodate small veggies.

3. Mushrooms in a laundry basket – Got an old laundry basket handy? You can use it to start a mushroom garden!

4. Shoe organizer garden – Another great way to grow herbs or smaller veggies. This is a vertical solution, which means you can fit a lot of plants into a smaller space.

5. Use a shoe – No, really. Do you have some kicks that are past their prime? Old shoes make great planters! Since shoes – even boots – are pretty small, you’ll probably want to stick to herbs and succulents in your mini shoe garden.


Next: More creative container ideas!

herb spiral

6. Old bricks – Got lots of old bricks in your yard? Many urban yards seem to, for some reason. Collect them all and turn them into a spiral garden for planting herbs and smaller veggies!

7. Mesh produce bags – You can’t recycle the mesh bags that often hold citrus or potatoes, but you can turn them into a hanging planter!

8. Old tires – You can often find old tires by the side of the road, and tire shops will sometimes give you old ones for free, since they would need to pay to dispose of them. Turn that trash into stacked potato planters!

9. Self-watering soda bottles – Two liter bottles are perfect for creating your own self-watering containers for herbs!

10. Rain boots – I love this colorful take on the shoe garden idea. You’ll definitely want to drill some drainage holes in the soles of your rain boots, so you don’t drown whatever you plant in them.

Image Credit: Creative Commons bathtub planter photo by ilovememphis; spiral herb garden photo by Becky Striepe

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Ann Bodimeade
Ann Bodimeadeabout a year ago

Some interesting ideas. Thanks for sharing

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Reuse reuse, sharing!

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M.2 years ago

Some really great ideas. I will have quite a few old bricks, after the side of my house has a cement driveway extended right up to the house, and I am going to save them for a spiral planter for my front yard. I have a patch there right now, and it just never looked right - this idea will certainly change the look, and I can put my big well pump right in the middle - boy the creative juices are flowing right now.... Thanks so much for posting Becky.

Mary T.
Mary T.2 years ago

I use tires to plant my potatoes; like the idea of the mesh vegetable bag - wont throw them away

Tammie Chambers
Tammie Chambers2 years ago

great ideas!

Emma B
Emma B2 years ago

The spiral garden is beautiful, and I love the shoe organizer idea!

Yulan Lawson
Yulan Lawson2 years ago

Fantastic ideas. Thanks. I have a small area for planting and using pots and you've helped a lot.

Lisa Nevares

This article was an answer to prayer - I was needing ideas for what items could best be recycled for gardening use! Thank you, thank you!

Shawn P.
Shawn P.2 years ago

We have an old bird bath that I plant with flowers and ivy. And we've also taken to planting a cherry and grape tomato plants on the walk to our front door. When they're ripe we just pick a few on our way in to snack on. Sweet and delicious and organic.

Miranda Parkinson

very inspirational!