These creative planter ideas make the most of a tiny garden. We’re always looking for ways to squeeze just one more plant into our small outdoor space. On one of our garage sale treks I found a rusty old chair and thought it would be perfect as a planter once I painted the metal and removed the seat cushion.
At the time, I was in my ‘succulent’ phase and couldn’t wait to introduce a lush ‘seat cushion’ full of plants tucked in beside our rock garden. In fact, succulents can be planted sparsely within the container and will spread quickly to form that lush look in no time!
At first we planted the succulents in a ceramic dish, but it cracked after only one winter.
Creative Planter Ideas
With some trial and error, we made our own hypertufa planters that fit the seat of a chair perfectly! Making a succulent seat cushion hypertufa planter is a great beginner project that anyone can do!
Here’s another metal chair that we painted and is just waiting for a hypertufa planter. I’ll be fashioning something rectangular for this one, so it will be a little more challenging finding a mold with the perfect shape and size. We’ll probably end up custom-building a form for this one!
The wonderful thing about hypertufa is that it overwinters without cracking (unlike ceramic) so in the fall, while the chair goes into the garage to be stored, the planter stays out in the dry creek bed (shown briefly in the last picture). I’ve had the best success overwintering my succulents in the same container ever since; it comes back like a trouper every Spring when we bring out the chair and put it back in its place of honour in the garden! We drop it right over our fern and it happily grows right under the chair; it loves the shade!
Upcycle a Birdbath
I quickly found other areas to add succulents – such as on top of a shallow birdbath in the opposite corner of the garden.The before and after is quite striking; planters of any size and scale can add a lot of interest while the garden is waiting to mature.
When the garden was young and sparse, I kept the compositions on top of the birdbath very structured – as in the example pictured below. In subsequent years, the planter arrangements became more free form as the garden started to mature.
The glass dish was found for pennies at a value village; I filled in the shallow bird bath with some aquarium gravel then nestled the dish into it. The piece of petrified wood and the stone was found at the same store at which I purchase the aquarium gravel. I love the way the colour of the stone plays off the flowers of the succulent in bloom and the ornate outdoor mirror that I faux painted.
I found the ceramic dish pictured below at HomeSense and filled in the bird bath with river rock. Be sure to drill out some holes in the bottom of whatever dish you use for drainage. I also add in a piece of landscape cloth to prevent the dirt from leeching through the holes all over the river rocks.
The ceramic dish adds height and the white pops against the background greenery of the Oak Leaf Hydrangea.
Below you can see how the arrangements evolved and got more relaxed over time. Every once in a while we will switch up the succulents for flowers instead to bring added colour to the corner of the garden.
However, I think I may go back to succulents in the planters moving forward, now that the clematis is taking hold on the lacy backdrop of the mirror and the oak leaf hydrangea is nicely filling out the corner behind the bird bath we turned into a planter.
Before I found just the perfect planter for the shelf under the mirror, I used to decorate that area with a yoga frog which I found at Pier One years ago.
Although the frog brings a touch of zen, I much prefer the way that greenery reflects in the mirror and it wasn’t long before I replaced the frog with another plant! We’re always on the lookout for interesting and unusual containers to plant in and one of my favourite finds is this vintage porcelain pot with a wooden handle.
Moreover, it houses a hosta that we overwinter in the garage. Even though the hosta is in a container, it amazingly comes back every year!
Creative Planter Ideas to Hide Ugly Features
Concrete can add a sculptural quality to the garden as well as add a bit of height that can block the view of ugly elements such as downspouts and utility wires and pipes. We found this planter at an out of the way garden centre that we stumble upon. It’s worth the effort to stop and look; you never know what you might find!
However, not all concrete has to be used for planting. Think about where you might want to add an accent with some statuary. My husband added the ‘cool’ sunglasses as a joke one day; gotta love his humour!
To keep this blue danube juniper backdrop ship-shape, see how to reshape a pom pom topiary.
Another way to hide things you don’t want to see is to set a planter over a platform.
Here my husband built a cedar planter that we set on top of thrift store bamboo mats to temporarily hide a drainage pipe.
Creative Planter Ideas with Upcycling
My favourite creative planter ideas are completely upcycled. Planters can take the form of many unexpected cast aways. Here are two examples: 1) an old milk can on top of a fire pit upcycle.
2) A discarded chair upcycled with the help of a hyptertufa planter. If you ever wanted to try your hand at making a succulent seat cushion hypertufa planter, check out our full how-to here.
Be on the lookout for moveable stands at garage sales to beautify your yard with a container garden on the cheap; they allow flexibility of placement in the garden.
Cedar is an ideal material to use as a planter box for its durability and weather resistance. Below is another idea for using cedar planter boxes. Here, we have set the planter box below a trellis. Each year we plant annuals that wind their way through the trellis. It’s a beautiful way to hide an ugly view.
Trellises are simple to design with a presentation software, such as powerpoint. And building them goes fast with an air gun and a bit of glue (and of course a handy helper – Hubs, or as I like to call him; my “partner in grime”).
And on that note, I finally got around to blogging about a variety of outdoor privacy screen ideas for the garden. Versatile for climbing plants, they add greenery to the garden and much needed privacy to a suburban lot.
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I like the structural elements that the mirror and statue bring to the garden. I started planting succulents in earnest last year as we’ve been in a four-year drought. We’ve recently converted our lawn into native plants and added a rain harvesting system. The garden is completely different that it was two years ago.
Thanks! Your succulents in today’s post look great! I can’t wait for Spring to come.
Thanks for reading! Spring is just around the corner here, but I know in Canada you plant much later. What is your planting zone?
Well, that depends who you ask! In the American textbooks we are zone 5. In our Canadian nurseries, we are considered zone 6. I usually hold off planting anything until after the May 24 weekend here 🙂
Interesting. I wonder why they’re different? That’s a full eight weeks after we can safely plant here. You must enjoy every moment of the summer season.