If you like avoiding waste, being practical and saving money, then upcycling is for you. With a little imagination and a keen eye you can make interesting substitutes for pots in the garden. If you rent rather than own your garden, container growing is practical, avoids discussion with the landlord and allows you to take your garden with you when you move. Here are some examples, including those sent by our readers as part of a recycling photo competition earlier in 2013.

Plumbing items

We are probably all familiar with old baths used as planters and ponds, but think about pipes of all sorts such as those in the banner image above.

Household containers

Crockery and glassware have a variety of uses. They can be filled with water for birds if you make sure there is something they can grip with their feet. Porcelain containers can be given drainage holes if you drill carefully. Terracotta or ceramics can be used without drainage holes for plants like water chestnuts which need to be flooded when they mature.



Kettles, aluminium cans, mugs, pots, kettles, teapots and plastic or cardboard drink bottles have a variety of uses including mini-greenhouses, planters and plant guards. Just remember drainage holes for planters.

Sarah Rickard (800x450)Patricia Jarvie

Bonollo 15mini-greenhouse 1 (600x800)Tahnia Trusler-1

Dianne PalmerChristine NevillePolystyrene fruit boxes and toilet roll tubes

If the holes in the base are covered with something like shade cloth to hold soil in place they make good planters. They can also be easily converted into wicking beds by lining with strong plastic, adding scoria, a layer of shade cloth and then soil. The cardboard from toilet rolls make convenient biodegradable pots for seedlings.

Vehicle parts

Surprisingly trucks and cars provide some interesting material. Springs can hold smaller pots, wheel rims convert into pots and hub cabs create an interesting support for climbers.

Judy Margolis 2Judy Margolis -Wheel RimIMG_0002 (800x600)

Garden gear

Wheelbarrows, watering cans and buckets which have developed rust or holes and old garden boots deserve upcycling too.

IMG_0001 (800x600)Tine Grimston 44 (450x800)Tine Grimston 32 (800x459)Tine Grimston 17 (800x568)

SharronP (2)Vanessa Hagon ToolboxCatherine Stephenson-Firepit (800x600)Other ideas

Other items make good planters too. Some examples are a fire pit, an old toolbox and plastic bins that had been used in local council recycling collections.

Just use your imagination!

Photo credits (numbered from top, left to right):
1, 2, 3, 7,: Ferelise Bonollo
4, 9, 15, 16, 22: Sharron Pfueller
5: Kelly Bennett
6: Sarah Rickard
8: Patricia Jarvie
10: Tahnia Trusler
11: Christine Neville
12: Dianne Palmer
13, 14: Judy Margolis
17, 18, 19: Tine Grimston
20: Catherine Stephenson
21: Vanessa Hagon