3 Tips to Create DIY Planters & 3 Ideas on How to Use Them

DIY Planters

Plants and flowers add wonderful color and life to any space. From sprawling yards to small balconies, choosing the suitable planter helps you make the most of your green and growing areas. 

Of course, not every planter is equal. Size, shape, and material play important factors in the best planter choice. Plus, they have to match the existing aesthetic!

Creating your own planters is often the best way to ensure they live up to your standards. Indeed, with a few handy pointers, anyone will turn their old items and forgotten scraps into picture-perfect planters. 

Here are three tips to create awesome DIY planters, plus three plant ideas to make them truly stand out.

The Planters…

With a bit of work and a free afternoon, these planter ideas can make excellent highlight pieces for your plant collections.

The Vertical Pallet

Painted wooden pallet with flowers

Pallets are highly versatile items in the gardening world. Standing gardens and window boxes are popular planters made from old pallets. However, by turning it into a vertical growing surface, your plants gain an entirely new dimension of growth. As well, vertical planters add extra depth and plant space on balconies and other areas lacking in size.

To make a vertical pallet planter, follow these steps:

  • Find a pallet free of chemical treatments. Clean it, remove any debris, and make it safe to handle.
  • Staple garden fabric to the back and sides to create a contained box. Garden fabric ensures proper drainage and circulation.
  • Fill the planter with your favorite soil. After this, plant your desired plants in strips of soil. Flip it up onto its side when finished, and you’re all set!

A pallet planter is fairly low maintenance and will last several years. It is wood, and it will behave like wood does when covered in moist dirt. During its lifetime, though, your vertical pallet planter makes a spectacular display for your plants.

The Spare Lumber Shadow Box

Wooden box container of succulents mounted on wooden wall in lush New England coastal garden.

If you have any spare wood lying around, consider turning them into hanging shadow boxes. Shadow boxes are excellent pieces to highlight prized potted plants or other stand-alone plants.

Shadow boxes themselves aren’t planters, but they do house planters of various types and sizes. Depending on the lumber available, shadow boxes are craftable in nearly any shape and size.

To start, figure out what you want to plant to determine the size. Pick your wood supplies from any source possible. Shipping crates, pallets, or even old furniture have plenty of usable wood pieces. Glue, nail, or staple the pieces into your desired shape and size.

Since your plants are in separate planters, feel free to paint or seal your shadow box. Linseed oil is great for natural wood preservation. Otherwise, match the colors or stains to suit your aesthetic needs. After this, hang your boxes and fill them with your favorite plants. 

The Old Toy Planter

Pink heather blossom in decorative vintage car truck, garden decoration

Pretty much anything makes a decent planter. Wood and terra cotta are more traditional choices but don’t forget to look at unconventional containers.

If you have children, take a look at their old toys. Toy dump trucks, toy chests, and even old rain boots make great containers for flowers. Also, using old toys is a great way to get the entire family in on the gardening fun.

Simply pick a toy with some kind of plantable space, fill it with dirt, and plant it away. The size of the toy determines the size (and amount) of what you plant. Still, try to be as creative as possible, especially if your kids are leading the planting adventure.

…And How to Use Them

Once you’ve created your planters, it’s time to fill them with your favorite plants. Here are a few ideas to maximize the effect of your new displays.

Showcase Your Succulents and Ivies with Pallets

single succulent in pallet garden with pink background

Vertical pallets offer uncontested views of your plants. A sound strategy is to pack each dirt row with as much beauty as possible. Succulents make a great choice, as they stay relatively compact without much trimming or managing. 

Hanging ivy is another great option to add depth to your pallet. Let the ivy drape down over the wooden strips to tie the entire surface together.

Highlight Your Prized Flowers with Shadow Boxes

A view of a wooden wall mount design filled with an array of plastic indoor plants.

Shadow boxes are ideal for displaying your special plants, like roses and orchids. The boxes help protect the plants from critters and the elements. They also keep the plants quite literally elevated above the rest of the garden.

Fill them to suit your needs, including adding blooms of color, or adding multi-level vines and ivy. Don’t forget about using herbs like lemon thyme and citronella to have further pest control in your growing space.

Get Your Kids Started in the Garden

little antique wagon full of flowers in backyard

When kids start gardening early, they have an entire life of green-thumbing in front of them. While gardening isn’t always the most exciting option for children, there are still many ways to keep it fun.

Have them pick old toys to use for their planters. Once they’ve decided, let them plant their flowers or plants of choice. Help them when needed, but encourage them to lead the project. This gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment as they watch their plants flourish.

Final Thoughts

There are countless options for unique planters. Let your imagination run wild and find inspiration all around you. Maximize your vertical surfaces if your growing space is small. Or, accentuate your yard with shadow boxes to highlight your prized plants.

Lastly, get your children involved with toy planters and special kid-friendly plants. Gardening is a fun activity for the entire family. Starting early (and with a fun project) is a great way to create lasting gardening memories for everyone.

Other Recommended Reading

Little white cup of espresso coffee, opened book, blue semi-transparent vase with purple lilac flowers on rustic wooden table in the garden at spring morning after sunrise or at evening before sunset
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