Create a Beautiful Garden Planter from a Simple Container

Making my home look great with the addition of vibrant coloured flowers.

Traditional flower pots and planters can be expensive, so I like to visit yard sales and flea markets to find inexpensive ordinary containers to turn into beautiful planters for my deck and patio. You can often find flower pots and planters secondhand that will work for you if you are gardening on a budget, but I like the challenge of creating interesting holders for my flowers from other things that I find at local sales.

Some plant containers that I have seen in friends gardens include old work boots, wheelbarrows, bathtubs, tires, wagons, teapots, wooden buckets, metal buckets and even an old dresser. The possibilities are endless. You just need to keep an open mind and imagine each container with beautiful plants in it and you would be surprised at the options you will find.

My latest discovery was a cold drinks bucket with stand that was meant to be a beverage cooler for parties, but the bottom was pretty dented. The paint was in great condition and I like the cheerful turquoise color. I grabbed it at a flea market for $2 and decided to convert it into a beautiful planter for my patio.

Takes 40 minutes and is easy – Costs no more than $20.00

Materials Needed

Container that you want to turn into a planter
Potting soil or garden soil
Rocks or stones
ToolsHand trowel
Garden Hose


First you will want to find the container that you want to convert into a planter. I found this cold drinks bucket and stand at a flea market for $2 and thought it would look super cute at the corner of my patio full of flowers. The bottom was dented, but otherwise in good shape. You can convert containers that are metal, wood or plastic for this project.


You will want to clean up your container before you start planting. Usually you can just hose off your container removing any dust or dirt. You may have to use some soapy water if you have a lot of grease and grime. However if you are using a wood container, you may have to do some sanding and painting. You can decide what needs to be done so that your container is ready for some spectacular flowers.


You will need to drill several holes into the bottom of your container so that it can drain excess water. Then fill your container with about 1 inch of stone, rocks or seashells, this will provide good drainage for your planter. I used extra rocks from our driveway, but any hard material that will provide cracks for water to run through will work out just fine.


This is the fun part, go pick out your plants. I chose varieties that are sun lovers and bloom through midsummer. You can decide to choose plants that bloom during any season or you can decide to start your plants from seed in your container.

..and then

Fill your container with potting soil or garden soil. You can also use compost, if you are already creating nutrient rich soil for yourself. You will want to fill the container so that when you place the plants on top, their top soil line is not over the edge of the container. If you are starting from seed, then fill the container to 1 inch below the top edge and go ahead and plant your seeds.


Remove your plants from their temporary pots and arrange them in your container taking consideration of color and height. I chose plants that would bloom from spring through the summer, but you can choose plants that bloom any time of year. I also chose sun loving plants because I plan to use this container on my patio. Be aware when choosing your plants to take in account temperature, light, and geographical conditions.
Fill in around your plants with potting soil, making sure to get in all of the cracks. Then give them a light watering and place your planter where you want it.

PVC pipe garden that you make yourself

See, I have three little boys, one of whom is in the “grab everything and destroy it” stage. I cannot have planters on the ground with Dominic around! I can’t guarantee that his 6 year old brother wouldn’t get into the dirt, either. So I needed something that I could keep up off the ground and out of toddler reach, at the very least.

There are quite a few awesome ideas for doing a PVC garden. I took some of those and adapted the ideas.
Some people feel that PVC pipe is dangerous for garden use. However, we use it for piping water, so I don’t see this as much different.

Making a Horizontal PVC Pipe Planter

PVC pipe garden I wanted something easy to hang on the concrete block wall that we have running around the yard. So I took a length of pipe (about 6 feet long) and painted it white on the outside. Our pipes were a gaudy bright orange . . . not really something I wanted hanging out there! In the future, I may let the kids draw and paint their own designs just for fun, but this one was simply spray painted white.

Next, I use a hole cutter with my husband’s drill to make 12 evenly spaced holes. I really should have gotten photos of all this, but I didn’t realize that I’d be writing a tutorial!

To make sure the holes are straight, I recommend having kids hold the pipe and then use a plumb line to snap a straight line across the length of pipe. This leaves a chalk mark. You can then measure however far apart you want the holes. Mine were about four inches apart.

If you can use a vice or something to hold the pipe while you cut, it will be MUCH easier. I stood on the pipe with one foot, but it was still hard. Also, the plastic circles stuck in the bit and I had a heck of a time getting them off. These make fun curved disks for kids to thread onto string or use for flying disks, etc.

Next, I drilled two small holes on opposite sides of the pipe at each end to thread the wire through. This wire was then twisted above and used to make hangers. I used the cutoff ends of 3 L pop bottles to block up the ends of the pipe.

You will also want to make some small drainage holes under the pipe. Just 4-6 will be fine. Put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the pipe and then fill that sucker with dirt. That was possibly the hardest part of the whole thing! I ended up using a funnel to add the dirt. It took 10 lbs to fill this pipe.

Ready to Try Container Gardening?

PVC pipe gardens are basically container gardening and so it helps to have an idea of what you’re getting into before you start. These books will help you learn which vegetables do best in containers and how to make sure your garden flourishes.

Some Vegetable Gardener’s Advice: How to Grow Food in Pots and other containers.

Container Gardening: How To Grow Food, Flowers and Fun At Home (Gardening Guidebooks)

McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers

Container Gardening: 250 Design Ideas & Step-by-Step Techniques

My lettuce is growing beautifully in the pipe garden!

PVC pipe garden As you can see, the lettuce is slightly stunted in the pipe, but it still grows very well! I’ve cut it several times for salads and there are enough plants to keep us in small salads fairly frequently. By cutting a bit above the base, I leave enough for the lettuce to grow back. It comes back rather quickly, too!

Why I’m Trying to Garden

I have black thumbs. While my mother can take ANYTHING and make it grow, those genes sure didn’t get passed on to me! However, we’ve recently had a lot of issues with contaminated produce, so I decided that it was vital to grow my own salad ingredients to feed my family. I want them to stay healthy!

Lettuce is one of the biggest offenders here in Guatemala and so I started with that. It’s not growing that well, but this may be because it is too hot for the poor plants. I’m considering moving the planter to a more shaded area . . . or making a new one and replanting this one.

One of the fun things about growing your own veggies is that the kids get interested. My greens resistant son came up while I was watering the lettuce the other day and asked if he could try some. I pulled out one of the extra baby plants and he ate it right up: This is the kid who NEVER touches greens if he can help it. I don’t think he’s ever eaten lettuce in his life. That right there is enough reason for me to keep trying.

More PVC Pipe Garden Ideas

PVC pipe garden ideas Isn’t this a cool idea? It’s so simple and you can either use leftover gutter or PVC pipes cut in half. My main reason for not doing an open design like this is that it gets very hot here in Guatemala and I wanted to reduce the amount of evaporation that would occur. In cooler areas, however, this would be great!

PVC Mosaic Pillars

PVC Garden Planters Here’s a really unique idea . . . turn PVC pipes into mosaic covered planters or pillars for plant pots. It’s actually surprisingly easy. This idea is on my list of fun ways to make my own planters.

Strawberry Tower

PVC strawberry tower Strawberries take up a lot of space if you want enough to actually do something with. However, if you opt for vertical, then you can get all the berries you need for shortcake in one square foot of land. There are a lot of options out there, so you can probably just wing it from photos.