Great Container Gardens

luna_llena_felizSeptember 4, 2007

What are some of your best accessible container gardens? I have seen some great ideas in various messages but I thought it would be good to try and get it all in one spot.

I like the idea of using odd objects as container gardens like old wheelbarrows or wagons, galvanized livestock water tanks or even old bathtubs. They (1) take up a generous portion of space, (2) are as interesting as the flowers and plants they house and (3) can be purchased second hand or found free via something like I also like to use old chairs as "stands" for pots. There is something about old, weathered wood or a wooden chair painted a bright color that looks so nice in the garden.

What do you use or think would make a great container garden?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
oakleif(z6 AR)

Since i'm just getting started all i've got is pots, but am looking seriously at a couple rotted out stumps of pine that is solid rich pine and will last a century. DD has a wheelbarrow with minature roses and an old double square wash containers on the original stand (the rub board kind) that she fills with annuals.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 3:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
valentinetbear(z6 PA)

When I was young, my grandmother "planted" an old rowboat in her yard and filled it with sand, for our "sandbox." Ever since, I've drempt of one or two rowboats in my backyard (yard's not big enough, and getting them in it is impossible) - one for tomatoes and one as a flower bed.

We must all grow up, but maturing is not mandatory! With that, the basic theme of my garden is teddy bears and child like wonderment. (I just finished my first topiary -- a peat moss filled Teddy Bear with ivy growing on him. If anyone knows how to care for such a huge "creature," I've posted some questions on the topiary board, but haven't had time to develop pictures yet. LOL)

Included in the garden already is a Radio Flyer red wagon with cukes growing in containers in it, an enameled green collander (strainer) with lamb's ears and polka-dot plant, herbs in plastic coffee cans, (my rosemary died in the large olive oil can,) a cheapo child's plastic wagon with basil in it, a child's round, plastic picnic table, in lieu of a "plant stand," two different size grills -- one's for herbs and the other has ornamental peppers, and an eclectic assortment of gnomes, teddy bear figurines, a mamma bear with baby bear on her back lying in a log, and turtle figurines guarding the plants. The only things bought at full price, since they were only a dollar each, are some of the figurines. Everything else was either bought at a Goodwill store, flea market, fo%-75% off sales, or bought with points saved up after a year of visiting sponsored sites through one of those "get paid for reading e-mail" thingies.

I've been collecting odd container ideas for over a year, and put the entire list on one of my websites (the link below.) I have some of the list already, but given the time and space some day, (when the winning lottery ticket blows into our hand), I'd love to use everything on the list except the tire (hubby refuses LOL) and the toilet! (I dunno. Just not brave enough for the toilet.) LOL

PS oak, the pine will last for quite some time, but it is soft wood, so it won't last a century. Still, would love to see it, when you get pictures of your finished project. (Go ahead and get them, if you can figure out how to bring them home. LOL) I'm coveting Dad's huge tree sections, from cut down trees on his property, but could never get them in the car, once more home. LOL

Here is a link that might be useful: List of optional containers

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 1:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love the idea of planting in the old tree stumps, oaklief, and I saw a picture of the old washtubs like that but they didn't have them planted. I bet it would be awesome and and a nice height!

Valentinebear, I remember seeing your one planted grill at your site and thought it was an excellent planter - just the right height and is probably portable. Plus it could make a cute theme like the planted grill and an old cooler maybe with bottles sticking out from amongst the flowers.

Speaking of toilets ... my boyfriend is a former plumber. I was collecting ideas that were plumbing related. I found a picture of an old bathtub with the claw and ball feet used as a pond with a running shower as a fountain! I thought of doing that with an old tub (now where to find one and how to move it!) and have an old toilet and sink near it planted with flowers. Someone on the Garden Junk forum has brass pipes and faucets coming out of the ground with crystal "water drops" hanging from the faucets that I thought were lovely.

I was looking through your list, valentinebear and saw a few that I coveted. A book I bought on eBay with different garden junk ideas had a picture of an old shopping cart lined with moss and planted with flowers. It looked very cool. And I would have never thought of a helmet except someone over at the Garden Junk forum posted a picture of a pink bike helmet with flowers in it that looked gorgeous.

Keep the great ideas coming! I am making a list. lol!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 1:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have bad lung problem, bad knees, and heart, but I still love to garden and eat what I grow. I got a lot of 5 gal. buckets and designed and made my own self watering bucket. I have been just planting a few with different plants to see if it works, it does so I am now planting turnips, cabbage, and collards in about 25 buckets. I have them placed so I can care for them sitting down, I have hopes for a real nice fall garden.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 6:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
oakleif(z6 AR)

My big pine stump is already in my yard but is tall enough to make two planters and the outside part of it is solid rich pine( Where pine rosin hardened and became hard as a rock) I could fill the bottom up with rocks and just put soil in the upper part,maybe a vine to drape down the sides. Could also plant a small tree in it,tho it is in the shade and my options would'nt be many. The other stump is in the woods.

dangsr, tell us about your self watering bucket, i could use one. Or are you going to patent it? I probably would.

Valentine, i love the rowboat idea. DD has a rowboat that has'nt been used in a year, If only i could get someone to sneak it by her house........ Find some fish windchimes to hang over the side. Id be in heaven lol.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 11:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

dangsr_grow, you will have to share that self watering planter idea! One of my big peeves about planting on my balcony is watering the plants. I have to lug a big water can out there to do it. I have enough trouble stepping over the sill to get out the dang door let alone do it with a watering can! lol!

I have been reading a number of books on accessible gardening. They all have some wonderful ideas for planters. Being in the city with small city lots, I liked the idea of "wall" gardens where you make boxes filled with soil-less dirt, put plastic over it and cover it with chicken wire. Then turn it on its side. You can stack them up on top of each other. Then make slits and plant small plants in them. I bet something like that would be gorgeous with hanging type plants and flowers! Below is a picture of one from the Chicago Botanic Gardens Enabling Garden just for handicapped folks. It is from their website and is rather small but I think you can get the gist of it by the picture.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 1:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

For watering outside without lugging a watering can: you might want to try using quart/litre-size soda bottles. With those long slim necks, I find it easy to put water where I want it.

And, if I'm using somethig like Miracle-Gro I don't have to guess-measure how much to add: one little spoon's worth to a bottle of water.

If there was a bench or a table just beside the door then you could fill the bottles and stash them. Then prop open the door and just reach in for another.

I also use a gallon container which is quite slim (used to hold bottled water). Because it has a jug-style handle I find it much easier to use than a conventional watering can.

My big can is mainly used out in the yard to gently settle things I've just planted up.

The other day, down at our local thrift shop, there was a 'bargain' which tempted me sorely: an old chest of drawers full of wood worm. 'Hanging gardens!' I thought. 'With an antique paint finish...' I didn't. No space I was prepared to use - but the thought is still around.

PS I am a recovering 'pot-a-holic'. Pots might look like the 'easy way to garden' but not when the pot numbers get into triple digits. The only thing that saved me was having two friends with big country gardens...:-D

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 4:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have arthritis and a balance problem so bending is very difficult. I made an inexpensive container garden with old upright freezers. Remove the door, shelves, and "innards". Lay the freezer down on its back and drill drainage holes in what used to be the back but is now the bottom of the freezer. Fill with a *very* light mix of compost, sand & soil or LOTS of bags of potting soil that won't pack. I covered the outside with landscape timbers on the corners and some inexpensive house siding with 1x4's laid on top of the edges to hide the metal refrigerator. They look like very large, expensive wooden planters. For my cutting garden I'm thinking of painting them all different colors. In the winter in my zone I can make little "hoop houses" with plastic and bent conduit (you could use pvc or rebar or cut up a stock panel?) and have salad all winter. When a freeze is on it's way I just put a light bulb under the hoop and, if it's a really hard freeze, throw a blanket over it. I've got 4 freezers that I have lights in during the winter. The sides are insulated so you don't have the problems of most container gardens, they're high enough so that I don't have to bend over, they're easy to reach all the way across.... I just have to watch what I grow so that it doesn't grow taller than I can reach! I've grown everything in them from asparagus to potatoes, peppers to squash. I garden like the French intensive garden system so I pack a lot into a small space. The oldest ones are over 7 years old and might show a *little* bit of rust underneath the 1x4's (I looked), but you have to lift the 1x4 to see it.

Happy gardening!
Pat in zone 8b

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 12:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
oakleif(z6 AR)

Glad to see you both vetivert and Pat. I like your ideas. I would love the freezers if i could get someone to fix and haul them for me. I use the coke bottles for my indoor plants in winter. i fill them up and leave them beside my plants.I had'nt thought of using them outside.I 've now got so many pots,it may be easier to use the watering can.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 6:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the great ideas vetivert and Pat! I love the freezer idea! I will have to keep that in mind when I get a yard. This city might end up without a bunch of abandoned refrigerations and freezers then! lol

Pat, I'd love to see a picture of your freezers. Do you have a digital camera?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 2:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

luna llena-feliz I understand your watering problem but with my bucket system you would have to carry a gal. of water to each container, so this would not help you. what you need is one of those small plastic hoses that you fasten to a inside water source so you dont have to carry the water jug.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 5:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love finding large rocks (20-100lbs) that farmers in our area love getting rid of and putting them in the flower garden. They provide a nice place for the plants, can help with terracing the flower garden, and provide a use for something that previously was discarded.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 12:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

With recent total knee joint replacement many of our container pots have become hanging ones thanks to heavy-duty macrome hangars (Wal*mart or Jo-Ann Fabric)...large steel posts with up to 4 hangar hooks are also available at Wal*mart and most garden stores

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 9:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
valentinetbear(z6 PA)

I love that this thread is still continuing! I am curious though -- who do you recruit to bring in 20-100 pound boulders, a freezer, and the tub?! (Don't get me wrong -- I'm salavating, wishing I had the room in my 16' X 16' concrete backyard. LOL)

Anyway, haven't been here since last summer, so not sure if anyone will be back to see some suggestions I've thought of or learned over the winter, but gonna pretend everyone will, eventually. LOL

Oak, for your tree stumps. Hate the idea of getting them to your garden, just to find out they can't be used as a container, so thought of a couple of ways they still can. Succulents or bromeliads?!

You're in AZ, so you probably know succulents! Why not stick in some of the tougher varieties, or rock lovers, like Hens and Chicks? Now, I've only been dabbling with them for a couple of years, but Prickly Pear Cactus can take anything, droughts, storms, cold and hot, since they grow throughout the continental states and way into Canada. I bet you can find one or two kinds that can take that kind of plant.

I know even less about bromeliads, except the pineapple and air plants, but I found a site that tells you why I think they could work well for you ( ) -- they grow out of three substances: earth, rocks and wood! Exactly the kind of plant(s) your stump has been craving and, if you're anything like me, it helps the main gardening question, "How can I fit even more plants into my limited space?" LOL

Bummed that your video isn't available anymore, but sure sounds like I have LOTS of space compared to you! I can offer you two ideas that might put your limited space into maximum use.

First, the wall container you spoke about sounded familiar. Might even be the same thing I found, but it's a great use of a wall, if you can mount it (them) on yours. (My house is so old, if I put anything on any outside wall, I wouldn't be surprised if our whole house tipped over. LOL) Now, before checking out the link (,37-001RS,default,cp.html ), I have had one really negative experience with Gardener Supply, I bought a pyramid kind of container for my herb garden, and was very disappointed with it. First there was very little room to squeeze herbs into, and second, it was made out of pine, so it rotted out within three years. On the other hand, I've bought many other things from them over the years with about a 60/40 success rate, and the 60% good stuff works so well, it gets me going back again and again, knowing I might be wasting my money, sooooooo, if you do like the wall unit, investigate the type of plastic they use, and what others think of it. If you're creative and handy (or, better yet, know someone who is), maybe you can make a better unit for less. It sure looks good to me!

My other idea, is someone else's book -- I've been reading as much about gardening as I can find, and this book, by far, has taught me how to get the most out of the least amount of space, and it covers two important aspects of gardening for me -- growing edibles, and having beautiful displays at the same time! They're often talking about fitting several crops into one large container, so you know how little space is required. Now these ladies are much smarter then me, and will remain so, even if I keep learning at this same rate for another 2-3 decades, but I did end up notifying them that they did get one thing wrong -- I grew 4 pumpkins (started out as an accident LOL) out of a container. It is possible. It is also waaaaaaaaay too much work to ever try again. LOL

Now, there is a cheap way of turning a container into a self-watering container, sorta. Worst comes to worst, it guarantees your soil gets "drip irrigation" past simply watering them. Depending on the size of your containers, use a plastic milk carton, a 2 liter plastic soda bottle, a 20 oz. soda bottle, and, although this won't help much, for small containers, a 12 oz. soda bottle. Poke a few holes on the bottom and towards the bottom on the sides of the containers. While you're filling up your container, bury the bottle, up to its neck in the middle of the container, and keep the bottle cap on whenever you aren't refilling it. (Takes longer to empty out, if no air to replace the water with.)

And for those, who are having trouble watering balcony plants, if your balony is 38 feet or less from your nearest faucet, why not buy this gizmo?

And, finally, my main problem is leaning over -- I can't for more then 5-8 second, or will pay for it in increased pain later. Kinda see the problem there, since my garden is all containers? Besides the obvious idea of buying really huge containers (bought 4 huge ones from here for about $25, including shipping - ) I've been hitting my local FreeCycle Network ( )asking for anything to raise up my containers, so I can water them. I've asked twice a year for three years and hit the mother lode a couple of weekends ago. I now am the proud owner of two shelving units (really one, but was so tall, I made two out of it) for gathering my unused containers and supplies, as well as adding containers of herbs on top of the one next to the grill, so hubby doesn't have to go far to add herbs for our summer meals. My sweet potato vine is on top of the other, so I don't have to keep trimming it back like last year.

I also got a round metal table that I'll use the top for my elongated containers, and smaller containers, and will have the 5-gallon buckets with my produce all around its sides. All that for the best price going -- FREE!!!

By the time everything is where it is supposed to be (still moving around containers so I can set everything up the way I plan it to be) the only time I'll need to lean over is to pull out my produce, and for that, I'll pull my chair and cheap plastic table (trash picked) to gather the produce together.

Only thing my garden needs now are for my gnomes and bear statues to come out and protect the garden, when I'm not there.

Hope I've given some helpful solutions to keep everyone into our addiction -- gardening. LOL

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 12:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
oakleif(z6 AR)

Thanks valentinebear, i'm still around. I'm in Arkansas instead of Arizona and you did give me an idea. Virginia Creeper to hang down over the sides and a couple of columbines to grow upwards.

How is your teddybear family doing? I think of you when i see teddybears.

My container garden is steadily growing. I've added 5 tomatoes and two containers of cukes, one pepper and some sage.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 7:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

For watering, there is a method I just learned about that is in use in Africa.

Sink an unglazed terra cotta pot just short of the rim into your planting area. Water the planter well, and fill the pot with water. Top it with a saucer to keep small creatures from drowning and to reduce evaporation. Water will seep gradually through the porous clay to the soil as it's needed.

You DO need to water the area, at least in the beginning. If you have a larger area, the article said to sink a pot every 20" in every direction.

I just did my salad box, so will see how it works.


Here is a link that might be useful: Clay pot irrigation

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 11:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Referring to the plastic drink containers for watering. I purchased those niples that screw on the bottles and they seemed to work faily well but the big drawback is that the bottlees are not made of UV protected plastic and do not last very long in the sun. The self watering plastis bucket is a real good idea and ther are many many ideas of how to make them Just type in "self watering Containers (or buckets) and you will get plenty of ideas. I use mine in conjunction with a toilet bowl hooked to a 55 Gl tank. just like a regular toilet the tank fill until the valve closes when i flush it the water is delivered to all the containers (as they ere interconnected) I incorporated a small transparent tube set at the correct water level for the containers that way i can monitor the water level at all times and adjust as necessary.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 5:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mamasylvia(Cheyenne now 5a!)

Unlike most of you, I have plenty of space - 12 acres, no trees, plenty of sun. What I don't have is the ability to make use of it!

I just bought an Earth Box, which I am currently using to harden off some little pines I bought at an after-Christmas sale and kept inside for the worst of our winter. I was dreading carrying a pine in one hand while leaning on my cane with the other, and figured I'd have to harden off one pine at a time, which would take weeks. But the EB is on casters, and I can manoeuver it out the door and back in by myself! (I designed our house layout, and both the front and back porches are less than 2" below the door frame.) Once the pines are hardened off, they can stay outside until DH has time to plant them, and I'll fill the EB with the proper potting soil and get it ready to put plants in. Meanwhile, I have planted seeds in little peat pellets so hopefully they will be ready to transplant when the EB is ready for them.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 1:50AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Gardening ideas for a townhouse
Just moved to a new area and am living in a townhome....
Lasagna gardening
I'm gathering materials to start this and am pretty...
when to water notifier?
I was wondering if there is a product out there that...
accessible gardening on the porch??
i'm new to this forum and new to possible accessible...
How do you keep weeds down?
Great to find this forum! I have MS and some pretty...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™