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Decor Ideas

How To Add Style to Your Outdoor Planters With Clever Secondhand Finds

Plants add color without emptying your wallet.


Now is the time to enjoy your outdoor space before this lush fall weather chills down into true winter. It’s the last chance to liven up your outdoor lounge areas — but that doesn’t mean you have to spend exorbitant amounts of cash to enliven the space. Plants are the best way to do it, and they don’t require expensive potters. Instead, sprinkle charm around your outdoor space with clever homemade planters! Here, design pro Katie Striegel shares the easy how-to’s using secondhand finds.

Simple, Stacked Displays

Containers with Zinnia @Canary Bird@, Oregano, Marjoram and Echeveria on the deck
GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

“Flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales are the perfect places to find inexpensive treasures that work as unique planters,” says Striegel. “Here, old drawers are the focal point for a cheery plant display.” To do: Paint the front of each drawer blue; let dry. Rub sandpaper in a few areas to give drawers a shabby-chic look. Stack drawers on a table. Set four small potted succulents or cacti in the top drawer. Cluster four to five more small pots in front of the drawers.

Happy Hanging ‘Tote’

hanging flower tote with orange and purple flowers in planters
GAP Photos

“An old wooden toolbox or cutlery caddy is easily transformed into a hanging planter,” says Striegel. “All you need is some rope and a few small flower-filled jars. It’s such a cute ‘hello’ when suspended from a fence post or placed on a tabletop!” To do: Dust off a tool box or caddy with a cloth. Then fill five or six small jars or bottles halfway with water.

Snip fresh blooms, like daisies, and pop a small handful into each jar. Arrange the jars in the box and hang it from a fence post or the like with a sturdy length of rope.

Colorful Floral Medley

Nemesia, peppers and rosemary growing in tin cans, secondhand items
living4media/Lauermann, Andreas

Perking up a blah corner is as simple as popping bright flowering plants in soda cans or tins for tea, olive oil, or coffee. Here, a mix of bitty blooms complements colorful, vintage-looking tins for a vibrant, easy-made vignette. To prep tins for plants, clean them out, then use a hammer and nail to make drainage holes in the base of each. Fill with potting soil. Next, nestle blooms (like marigolds and nemesia) or even herbs (like rosemary) into each tin. Set in a spot that gets some shade; let soil dry out slightly between waterings.

‘Blooming’ Colander

succulent-filled colander
Flora Press/Daniela Behr

A cast-off kitchen staple goes from ordinary to wow-worthy when up-cycled into a totable garden. To do: Line the inside of a colander with plastic wrap (to optimize water retention), then fill it with potting soil and plant easy-care plants like sedum and sempervivum. Top with rocks; add a few shells or stones for flair.

Eye-Catching Herb Garden

herb filled dutch ovens and baking dishes - using secondhand items to make outdoor gardens
Flora Press/Sally Tagg

“I love using flea market dutch ovens or old baking dishes as surprising vessels for herbs and microgreens,” says Striegel. “Sometimes thrift stores or flea markets will sell sets of old dishes for less than $20!” If you can’t find matching sets, she suggests painting an array of dutch ovens in the same hues and patterns to create a cohesive feel. To do: Pop small plastic herb pots into dutch ovens. Cluster and display “planters” on a patio or picnic table. Remove plastic pots to water regularly.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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