Ways To Reuse Old Items For Your Container Garden

One of the more interesting ways to garden is to grow items in containers. You might be surprised at the types of plants you can grow in a container garden. From using espaliering to grow apple trees in a container, to herbs, to a variety of vegetables, it’s possible to transform a small space into an effective container garden.

Container gardening can be a great way to grow your own food, improving your self-reliance and living more sustainably. The containers you choose can also help you live up to your eco-friendly ideals. Here are some ideas for re-using old items for your container garden:

Seed Starts

If you are just starting some seeds, for later planting in a container or a more traditional garden plot, there are a number of interesting alternatives. Look around the house for small items that can find new life as a seed started. From old sour cream containers to bottles to egg cartons, it’s possible to start seeds in almost any container. If you have an old cardboard shoebox or some other container that can be broken down, you can start your seeds in that container, and then transplant it straight outside (double check the way the container will truly break down, however).

It’s even possible to use eggshells as seed starts. Carefully break off the top part of the shell when you use eggs and save the larger bottom part. Plant your little seeds in the bottom part. Eventually the shell will break down, so you can just plant it outside intact. As the shell breaks down, it acts as part of the compost, and it is also a natural slug repellent. You can plant your seedling in a container as well, without removing it from the eggshell.

There are also ways to transform your toilet paper roll or paper towel roll into a tiny seedling starter. Simply cut one end so that it has strips that you can fold down to overlap and create a bottom to hold in the soil.

Container Garden Ideas

As you create your container garden, think of the items that you might be able to reuse. They can be found around your house, or found at yard sales or via freecycling. It’s possible to give a number of items new life as part of a container garden. Here are a few ideas:

  • Barrel: If you want to grow some of the root vegetables, a barrel is a good choice. It’s possible to use a single barrel to grow plenty of potatoes or carrots. 
  • Buckets: For those who have buckets left over from pet food, or other purchases, you can use them for containers. Larger buckets can be used for root vegetables, and smaller buckets can be used for smaller vegetables. Tomatoes, peppers, berries, and herbs, among other vegetables, can also be planted in buckets.
  • Used tire: Re-use tires as containers for your garden. They are great for larger vegetables and berry plants.
  • Cinder blocks: Turn cinder blocks on their sides and fill them with dirt, and plant a few plants.
  • Jugs and soda bottles: If you have jugs and soda bottles, it’s possible to cut off the tops and grow smaller items. A single strawberry plant, or herbs, can easily be grown in these containers.
  • Shoes: Yes, you can use shoes as fun containers for smaller plants. Herbs are especially appropriate in shoes.
  • Drawers: Before you throw out the old chest of drawers, take the drawers and use them for containers for your garden. This can also work for old trunks and chests, and old wooden containers.
  • Wheelbarrow: If you want to be able to easily move your plants around, use a wheelbarrow. You can move plants to better light, or protect them from storms.


Depending on the containers you use, they can be set on a porch or back patio, or hard up against your house. Also, make sure that you pay attention to the drainage situation. It’s a good idea to drill small holes in the bottom of buckets, or drawers, for aeration and drainage. At the very least, a loose layer of rocks in the bottom can help.

Finally, make sure that you wash out re-used containers, and be alert for those that might have held toxic chemicals. Dresser drawers, for instance, might be covered with paint containing lead, and you don’t want to re-use buckets that have held dangerous chemicals, no matter how well you wash them.

What do you use for container gardening? What ideas do you have for reusing items in your gardening efforts?


Ways To Reuse Old Items For Your Container Garden — 9 Comments

  1. You probably already have many reusable items that will give your home a refreshing look. The key to recycling old items is thinking about how to use them for something other than their intended use, and then changing the way they look.

  2. I like going to construction sites and seeing if they have any scrap wood. Often, they’ll have long, thin, sturdy pieces that are great for staking plants like tomatoes. That’s what we’re using currently in our garden to hold up many of our plants actually.

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