Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Something from Nothing:
Inexpensive Large Planter Pots

Life slows each fall. Bears store up fat for a long winter's sleep and plants bear seeds for the coming spring. As nutrients are stored in roots and stems, leaves change colour and drop, a sign they too are ready for a rest.

My blueberry bushes need larger pots for the coming spring.

Transplanting time comes during the dormancy period from late October to early spring. I have two blueberry bushes I want to transplant. To be ready, I needed larger containers.

Blue 45 and 55 gallon blue barrels used for vegetable gardening.

Large pots are expensive. Because I live in a floating cabin, weight is also a problem. Heavy items make the floating foundation sink and sunken cedar logs get waterlogged. Anything to minimize weight is a positive.

Step 1: Cut the barrel in half with a grinder or skill saw.

So, how could I reduce cost and weight at the same time? The answer was blue barrels. They have become my go-to for vegetable gardening pots for years. But this time I wanted something more decorative.

Step 2: Drill plenty of drain holes.

The tops of the barrels have a pleasing sculptured rim. You don't want to cut up good barrels, they cost  $25-$45 each. But damaged ones can be found for free floating around the lake after winter storms.

Step 3: Clean the barrel and rub off any rough edges.

Picking one up is good for the environment, and a way to make something new and inexpensive from "nothing." That's recycling at its best.

Step 4: Spray paint the barrel in a desired colour.

Going from a "nothing" barrel to a large planter pot takes a few easy steps. The hardest part is cutting it in half. You do need power tools for this step. We've used either a skill saw or a grinder. For my decorative pots, I picked two barrel tops with decorative rims and bands. The remaining bottoms became blue vegetable garden planters.

Step 5: A large decorative planter to match the cabin's hunter green trim.

I picked Krylon Paint and Primer in hunter green to match the trim on our cabin. The can advertised that no primer was needed, even for plastic. After my first coat there were a few chips so I gave them a second coat on the outside. Maybe if I had used primer first that wouldn't have been needed. Getting paint to stick to plastic can be difficult.

My pot-bound Dracaena plants will receive the old pots.

Now I have two beautiful pots for my blueberry plants for less than $10 in spray paint. The barrels and labour were free (unless you count sweet-talking Wayne into the project). And in the spirit of letting nothing go to waste, the old blueberry pots will be inherited by my two rapidly growing Dracaena plants. They are popping out of their old containers and ready for new homes.

Do you have any tips for getting free or inexpensive large garden pots? I'd love to hear about what you use. -- Margy


  1. Wow what a great idea and the look great too.

  2. That is a great idea. Best out of waste.

    1. Anything up at the cabin that ends up being waste has to be taken to town to the dump. It's much easier (and smarter) to repurpose and reuse things. - Margy

  3. what a clever upcycling project! I love it! have a beautiful day!

    1. That's a good thing to call it. I like that word "upcycling."

  4. Great idea! I ended up buying some used pots on our 24 hr bidding facebook site in the Spring pretty cheaply for our potato experiment. Question - Dracaena plants - is that the same as spike? I have two spikes that I planted in pots with flowers around them, with the storms the flowers were destroyed so I finally removed them but the spikes look pretty healthy. Thinking about over wintering them outside. Your thoughts?

    1. Mine have lived outdoors ever since they were little baby Spikes about ten years ago. I haven't done much to protect them and they have grown from about 10 inches tall to the huge plants you see in the picture. - Margy


Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy