Wooden crate planted with vegetables

Upcycled containers for the garden

Find out how to turn household or vintage items into attractive garden containers.

All kinds of household objects and vintage and salvaged items can be used to make attractive new homes for your veg, fruit, herbs and ornamental plants.

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Discover our Top 10 plants for containers.

You can plant into almost anything – wellies, colanders, milk churns, tin cans, teapots – whatever fits your personality and your garden style. Bear the ultimate size of your plants in mind – succulents, alpines or annual herbs are great for smaller containers, while more permanent plants will need more space for their roots to grow.

Be sure to provide drainage – either conceal plastic pots within the container that you can easily remove for watering, or drill drainage holes in the bottom. Fill your chosen container with fresh, good-quality multi-purpose compost, and add a slow-release feed.

Here are some of our favourite upcycled containers.

Oil can

Oil cans often have distinctive and attractive designs, making them attractive containers that are great for Mediterranean herbs such as thyme or basil. Line the can with newspaper or bubblewrap before planting, otherwise the heat of the can will ‘cook’ the roots.

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Tin bath

An old tin bath is the ideal size for a miniature herb garden – mix the herbs with edible or medicinal plants for an even more attractive look. Find out how to make this herb container using red-veined sorrel, basil, salad burnet, calendula and pelargonium.

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Wooden box

Wine or wooden boxes make the ideal container for herbs and cut-and-come-again salads. Alternatively, fill it with alpine plants and succulents to make an attractive, year-round display – watch our No Fuss video guide to creating an alpine display.

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Metal trough

Old metal farm troughs are now highly sought after by gardeners. They are ideal for all manner of plants, including herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and more. Be sure to drill holes in the bottom to ensure good drainage. Watch our video guide to planting a large container.

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Belfast sink

A Belfast sink is a beautiful choice for all manner of plants – stick to one type for maximum effect, such as alpines, succulents, herbs, carnivorous plants. Or try this beautiful acer and bleeding heart display, perfect for a semi-shaded spot.

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Wooden crate

A wooden crate can be used to grow all manner of veg and herbs – here, we’ve combined kale, salad and dwarf beans. Line the crate with a used compost bag or black plastic to prevent the compost falling out of the sides, and add drainage holes.

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Metal bucket

A metal bucket makes an attractive (and portable) container for herbs or ornamental plants. Be sure to add newspaper or bubble wrap around the insides to prevent the compost from getting too hot. Find how to make this heuchera and viola pot display.

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Hessian sacks

Hessian sacks give an organic, natural look, and naturally provide good drainage (you might want to stand the sack on something to stop it staining your paving). They’re ideal for growing herbs, baby veg, strawberries and even potatoes – watch our video guide to growing potatoes in a bag.

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