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If you don’t have a lot of real estate on your lawn for planting, container gardening is an easy and fun way to introduce some color and life to your yard, deck, or patio. Now, we don’t mean just buying a plant and some potting soil and throwing it into a little green pot—we might not even mean using a pot at all.
The reason container gardening is exciting is that the possibilities go as far as your creativity. Your garden isn’t limited by what is available in stores: old buckets, vases, barrels, cooking pots, and even shoes can be used in the garden in ways that will have your guests smiling. If you choose to use a container you’ve purchased, there are infinite ways to dress it up, make it personal, and hang, mount, or display it in an unexpected way. Do-it-yourself gardeners and artists have come up with some pretty off-the-wall (or, actually, on-the-wall, as you’ll see) and inspiring ideas for container planting. Here is what we’ve found, and what we hope you’ll love, too:
If you have an old wall or tall fence that could use some sprucing up, with a few pieces of hardware and a drill or hammer, you can turn any run down or boring area into an unusual and beautiful vertical garden. Arrange and attach rows of small painted terracotta pots on the walls of out buildings, sheds, or privacy fences to grow flowers or herbs, or recycle materials found around the home to create your very own unique planters. We have seen excellent vertical gardens made this way using coffee and soup cans, rain gutters, hanging shoe organizers, and two-liter soda bottles—and all of these can be painted, decorated, and arranged on the wall in completely unique and exciting ways.
Quite possibly our favorite way to recycle in the garden when it comes to container planting is using broken, antique, or recently replaced furniture as dramatic and whimsical garden planters. A popular way to reuse old dressers in the garden uses the drawers, pulled out in tiers, as containers for planting cascading flowers. Old dining chairs with the seats cut out or tables with strategically placed holes in the top can act as planter holders. Without holes, these tables and chairs could be used as surfaces for moss gardens. In some of the most dramatic examples of furniture gardening we’ve seen, some gardeners have even used entire bed frames or claw foot bathtubs to create large planters straight from a storybook illustration.
In the same spirit as the wall-mounted containers, hanging baskets don’t necessarily have to be something you find in a store. Imaginative gardeners have been using all sorts of things to hang their plants, including birdcages, fruit baskets, light bulbs, bottles, and mason jars. But, with DIY hanging baskets, the wow is often in how you choose to hang them. Hanging large groupings of plants of different sizes and at different heights from trees or arbors can create a huge impact in the garden though the cost of materials may be very low. You could also design a hanging garden—with some sturdy cord and rods, the rain gutters on your wall or fence can be suspended to create hanging planters for rows of greens and herbs.
Wood pallet recycling has grown very popular both because of the seemingly endless applications they have in and out of the garden, and because they can be obtained easily and cheaply (and many times at no cost at all). Large box stores will frequently discard pallets for anyone interested in taking them, and many businesses sell old or repaired pallets at very low cost. While many people disassemble the pallets and use the wood for projects, others use the intact pallet as a container for flowers and vegetables. Wood pallets can be sealed with landscaping fabric such that only one face has openings, and then packed with growing medium, and plants can be grown through the gaps much like with strawberry containers. This pallet planter can then be leaned against a wall, mounted up high, or put flat on the ground. Wood pallets can also be used as a support for your wall container garden—decorate and mount your pallet where you would like, and then hang your containers on the pallet with twine or hooks. This wall mounting style allows you to change and mix your wall containers as you would like.
When it comes to container gardening, consider all options. Things you don’t think would make a suitable home for your plants can and have been made into remarkable containers. Just look around your home, and we’re sure you’ll come up with an idea that will make us smile (and pound our desks for not thinking of it first). If you’re going to do some experimentation, just be sure that the materials you’re using are free of harmful chemicals if you plan to plant fruits, herbs, or vegetables. Here are a few things we’ve seen recycled and assembled into planters:
Photos: Original sources unknown.