When gardening, one of the largest budget busters is purchasing containers for your plantings. Even at the discount stores, buying containers for your garden can take a huge chunk out of your wallet, leaving nothing for the plants! There are ways to creatively create your own cheap garden containers and save money to use on other garden projects.


home made containers


Remake a Cheap Container

When you look at the reality of it, all a container has to do is hold soil and allow water to drain. Looking pretty isn’t necessary for function, but most of us want to dress up our yards with our gardens.

Here’s some ideas:

  • Cheap pots from the dollar store, kitty litter buckets, or plastic paint buckets
  • Spray paint made for plastics
  • Glue gun
  • Decorative pebbles or stone

If your container has no way for water to drain, drill a few holes in the bottom. If you don’t have access to a drill, use a hammer and nail.

Make sure you clean your container well, then follow the paint can directions for giving your container an attractive base color. Earth or natural tones are best to keep the container looking unobtrusive. Metal finishes are also an option, you may want to try one of the newer hammered metal finishes for a modern look. Allow to dry overnight.

Using your glue gun, attach your stones or pebbles in a decorative fashion. I like to lay the planter on its side and work around the pot using bands of stones to “paint” simple designs. Lines, waves, geometric shapes and banding effects are all easy enough for any beginner. Try to plan your design to hide the less attractive areas of the container, especially if you’re using something recycled.

pebble mosiac containers

Allow the glue to set 24 hours. If the containers will not be in a protected area such as a porch or deck, you might want to consider using an exterior grade glue instead.

Fill with soil, plant, enjoy!


Using Unusual Containers in the Garden

If cheap garden containers are what you need, yard sale season is the perfect time to find them! Since we already know that all garden containers need to do is hold soil and provide drainage, this is a perfect way to make charming container gardens on a budget.

Scour yard sales, thrift shops and your own home for unique garden container ideas. Miniature gardens can be created and displayed inside everything from pretty teapots with a chipped rim to old suitcases or even purses! Wooden tool boxes, hanging colanders, mason jars and even old canoes!

Want something with a modern flair? Check out a pipe supply company for lengths of metal drainage pipe that can be used as trendy, urban looking containers.

Landscape Edging Ideas with Recycled Materials


Attach lengths of chain to old light fixtures to make funky hanging containers. Use your imagination… and it doesn’t hurt to say it again. If it can hold soil, it can be a container!

That having been said, make sure to use items within the style and theme of your home and gardens. Planting old work boots with trailing sedums would look great near an old barn in a country garden, but its going to look all wrong on the porch of a contemporary home.


Tips and Tricks When Using Cheap Garden Containers

When using cheap or free containers in your garden, there are a couple of tips to help keep your garden looking less than “cheap”.

Use a common element to keep things pulled together. Use the same color family, same style of decorating the pots, or use an unusual shape for the pots to make it all look deliberate. You don’t want it to look like a hodgepodge.

Use trailing plants with abandon. Letting plants fall over the side of the pots moves them into the background, hides imperfections in your containers, and puts the focus on the plants which is where it belongs.

Bring the eye up. Plant some tall, dramatic plants in pots to keep the eye from examining the containers too closely. Cleome, hollyhocks, and cosmos are tall plants that can easily (and quickly) be grown from seed, saving money.

When planning your gardens, making cheap garden containers can help you save money, while adding color and flexibility to your special outdoor space.



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