What can I reuse or recycle to make plant troughs/window boxes?

Compared to our old tiny yard, we’ve got a pretty big garden now but not that many flower beds – and the previous owners hinted that the beds we have got aren’t that deep (even though some of them are already raised) because the entire garden is built on, essentially, a cliff face. The rock is handy as it stops our house from sliding down the hill into the beck but it means my root veg will have to grow in containers instead.

I plan to scavenge some round tubs from somewhere – old plastic barrels or the like – but I’d like some nicer planters – probably trough/window-box shaped – for on the balcony/patio bit, and for the slither of space between the front of our house and the road. They don’t all need to be deep enough for root veg as I want to grow plenty of above ground stuff too.

My father-in-love has suggested making them out of scraps of decking – a box with decking for sides – but any other suggestions?

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10 Responses to “What can I reuse or recycle to make plant troughs/window boxes?”


  1. How about metal biscuit tins, with holes drilled into the bottom to let water out?

  2. Susie says:

    Alice, I use the large blue mushroom boxes which supermarkets often throw out. They are strong, of useful depth with suitable drainage holes! Mine last one or two seasons easily.

  3. Cipollina says:

    I too have rock a couple if hand widths down, and I have built raised beds using shoebox-sized rocks collected on walks with the dog in the neighbourhood. One to two rocks per walk make two to four rocks a day, more if we have a friend or two along. In a couple of weeks a nice little bed can be made that raises the ground at least ten centimeters – which for many plants is all it takes – even most types of carrots.

    I just found a beautiful old cauldron by our recycling station that is going to become a planter. In the same place I also found a while ago a huge old enamel cook pot – white with a blue edge, really pretty. Last year I found an old zink bucket in the forest (!). They all have one or more holes in or near the bottom, which probably is the reason why they were thrown away. Since planters need holes for drainage, I think they will both do the job perfectly and add a certain charm to my garden.

  4. daniel says:

    Dont use car tyres if you plan on eating produce!

    They contain dangerous levels of cadmium and other nasties!!

    I have old gutters screwed to shed with holes drilled in.

    Its very sunny spot so thinking hardy dry lovin herbs at mo..

    • Charlotte says:

      Oh no, i was about to plant some potatoes in a stack of tyres in a school garden – is it really truly that dangerous? What’s the evidence? And what if i line it with a big sheet of plastic, would that protect veggies from the pollutants?

      I’d really appreciate some advice on this, from anyone!
      Thanks,
      Charlotte

  5. Simon says:

    Louisa – similar to your Father in Laws idea but a bit more rustic…

    If you have woodland near you try looking for long straight logs, a bit of work with a hacksaw and you can usually find a few that will sit neatly on top of each other.

    Drive two stakes (also made out of fallen tree but smaller), into the ground on either side of your log pile at regular intervals and tie them with string across your logs to form uprights (or better yet use willow or tree roots a’la Ray mears to lash them together).

    This should creates a decent enough barrier if done well to pile enough dirt up inside for a raised bed, small gaps between logs can either be plugged from the inside by using sticks as you build up the earth, or by using planks of wood, plastic sheet etc – you get the idea.

    Another possibility might be to use willow or twigs to wattle a sort of barrier but I’ve never seen this done and have no idea how effective it would be.

  6. Bill says:

    Old gutters work fine if they are deep enough and not totally worn out.

  7. Janet says:

    Some kind person (I don’t think so) left a broken barbeque (the big ball ones) outside my house. Hubby planted it with flowers, it looked very nice. I have also used a toilet cistern (that did not last to long) guttering hoppers, old wheelbarrow,belfast sinks and this year I have used the bottom part of an “Henry Hoover”.



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