Container Gardening Can Be Fun

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Mother’s Day is the traditional “safe to plant” mark on the calendar for our region which means that the coming weekends at any local nursery will be a zoo! I have started giving my mom a container plant for her patio on Mother’s Day since she and my dad now live in a retirement setting and no longer have a garden of their own. In anticipation of my trip to the nursery this week, I thought I would share some of my favorite fun container gardening ideas to inspire you for the coming planting season!

Non traditional containers are by far my favorite! Shocking, right? Let’s start with tool boxes and crates, shall we?    I think we shall!

These are some of my favorite flea market items to peruse!  They are usually readily available in various styles ranging from antique wooden tool carriers and crates to vintage metal varieties that can satisfy a myriad of decorating tastes.   Whether you lean more towards farmhouse or cottage decor; or perhaps you come out on the scale closer to industrial chic, these items make container gardening a delight!

The variety of plants used in this awesome old crate make it look more like a fresh bouquet than a planter.  (Source:  Pinterest)


In contrast, using all one flower also provides for major impact in this crate planter by HGTV Garden.   More container ideas from HGTV available here.


Crates can stand alone as the examples above, or, like this one from my own garden, be used in conjunction with other garden art objects.  We found this old wheeled farm cart with the apple crate already attached.  The seller even threw in an extra apple crate since the one currently on it is beginning to crumble. I love the haphazard look of it sitting along side the old gate and vintage watering can as if someone has just stepped away from working in the garden.



One of the reasons I like toolboxes and crates for planting is that you can plant directly in the boxes or simply use them to house potted plants.  Just be sure to either drill drainage holes in the bottom or line the bottom with a layer of pea gravel to provide the proper drainage for your plants if you decide on direct planting.   

Prices on these at the flea market can vary greatly, so have an idea ahead of time what you are willing to pay and be prepared to haggle a bit if necessary.  You may also want to consider making your own wooden tool carriers.  Check out the tutorials below to make your own garden containers using inexpensive pallet wood.

This old galvanized toolbox planted with ivy from Cindi at is an amazing addition to the old twig settee in a shade garden!


Donna from Funky Junk Interiors provides a tutorial for this toolbox style planter here. Love the use of the antique drill as the handle! Can you say AWESOME?

And what about the use of the curly willow branch in this design, also by Donna? So cute! Find it and other ideas here.

If you have ever had a tree fall, you are more than aware that finding a way to handle the remaining stump can be challenging to your landscaping vision!   Here are a couple of unique ways to use those tree trunks as a garden asset.

Plant it where it stands! Lushome provides a tutorial on prepping your stump for planting. Check it out here!


Or move it to a patio or deck. Architecture N Design has an assortment of ideas here for dealing with less than desirable tree situations.

It might take some muscle, but I love the look!


I have previously confessed my obsession with old silver and transferware, so it is not going to come as a surprise that I am a fan of using tea cups and silver serving pieces for planting!

Succulents in vintage silver–yes, please! Courtesy of Stephanie at Garden Therapy.

Tea cups make such pretty planters for small herbs and flowers! This version is from Leo and Jane at Cottage at the Crossroads. Find the tutorial here.

I love that these pieces perform double duty as a regular part of your decor after they finish with their planter duties!  Again, I like to put a bit of gravel in the bottom to provide drainage when using these pieces instead of drilling holes.


Enamelware and galvanized metal containers of any kind give my heart a case of the warm fuzzies!  They remind me of pieces that my grandparents owned and used when I was a little girl.  Whether it is a simple dish pan, bucket, or a more unique combination of pieces of varying sizes, I love the way the sturdy metal is balanced by the more delicate nature of the flowers and greenery.  


An enamelware soup pot planted with a formal topiary–lovely!   Linda of Q is for Quandrie has a fun tutorial for adding decal letters to enamelware and china pieces for the garden here!

I really need to try this! Check out the instructions from Kelly at The Pink Hammer here.

Again, these types of galvanized containers can be found easily in a flea market setting, but are also available brand spanking new in most hardware stores or garden centers.  You can even find many versions online here.  Just rough them up a bit if you want a more shabby feel.


This last collection is a group of planting displays that are for those of you that like to think way outside of the “flower box”.


Take this small metal dresser with the drawers used for planting . . . .


(Photo by Georgie Steeds)


Keeping with the dresser theme . . .would you plant the drawers of a vintage dresser?

Karen at Somewhat Quirky Design provides instructions here.


This is one of the most unique uses I have ever seen for vintage light fixtures!  It makes me wish I had a place to hang several of these!

I searched in vain for an original tutorial for this look, but alas, could find none.  I’m putting it on my list of projects to figure out!  As soon as I do, you’ll be the first to know!  (Picture Source:  Pinterest)

Have I ever told you that I started my teaching career as a typing teacher?  (I know, a far cry from my dreams of teaching marketing, but everyone must pay their dues.) Teaching typing involved dictating, “A S D F space J K L ; space”, over and over (and over) for several hours a day, for several days in a row until we had learned the entire keyboard and the kids could start working at their own pace from a book.  That whole working at their own pace from a book thing came none too soon given that, by this point, I had totally lost any semblance of a voice.  This procedure would then be repeated all over again at semester with a new set of students.   A more positive outcome of this phase of my life is the affinity I developed  for antique and vintage typewriters.  I have one that I use often in my home decor, but I’m just not sure I could bear to use it for a planter!  What do you think?

Check out this tutorial from Bess at Besserina. So cute!


This is one of my favorite plant displays ever, yet it is incredibly easy!  Just place plants in regular clay pots in an old suitcase!

The pictures on the Minty House Blog are amazing. Check them out here!

Whatever your style there are so many unique ways to add a bit of whimsy and panache to your container gardening!  These are just of few of the ideas that I have collected over the years.  Come on over and follow along on my Gardening and Outdoor Living board on Pinterest to see many more thoughts on plant groupings, care and creative containers!

Now it is time to head off to the nursery and get my hands dirty!


P.S.–Don’t forget to share these fun ideas with a friend!!!




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