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can i use a can as a pot

Going potty in the garden

Now is the time to start your spring planting – but shop-bought containers can be costly. Sally Cameron Griffiths shows you how to give new life to old tin cans

What recycled items find a new home in your garden? Share your thrifty tips in the comments section below

Traditional terracotta plant pots look great but can be expensive. Photograph: David Sillitoe/Guardian

Traditional terracotta plant pots look great but can be expensive. Photograph: David Sillitoe/Guardian

I t’s that time of the year when it’s no longer dark when you wake up, it’s warm enough to go for a walk on a Sunday morning, and you’ve resolved to plant something in your garden. Again. And this year you really are going to do it.

But if, like me, you only have a small outdoor area – in my case a roof terrace – then you need something to grow your plants in. And if you have been to your local garden centre or DIY store of late, then you will know that most containers don’t come cheap. And, to be honest, most of them are pretty ugly as well.

A pansy in a tin can

So why not get creative? When I was sorting out my recycling, I found that I didn’t want to throw out an empty tin of olive oil I’d bought when visiting a friend in Spain. It had everything I was looking for in a plant container – inexpensive but with a bit of character. Here’s how you can transform a similar container into a rustic plant pot.

What you need

Tin can (can be any shape or size – use your imagination)
Tin opener
Kitchen roll
Washing-up liquid
Hammer and nail
Soil
Plant/flowers/herbs, or whatever takes your fancy

How long will it take?

What to do

1 Collect some old tin cans. If you don’t have any of your own, go to a local restaurant – they will have loads waiting to be recycled. Use a tin opener if the lids haven’t been removed already.

2 Clean out the cans. For ones that held oil, wipe out the grease before you wash them. You can either remove labels from the outside or leave them on to weather down.

3 Use a hammer and nail to make drainage holes in the bottom of the tin.

4 Fill the tin with soil and plant your flowers (or equivalent). Choose a shape, size and colour of tin that complements the plant. Your pot may rust over time, but this is all part of its charm.

What else can be recycled to make a useful garden container? Or is there no place for rubbish in your garden – do you stick to traditional wooden planters and terracotta pots? Let us know in the comments section below

<p>Now is the time to start your spring planting – but shop-bought containers can be costly. <strong>Sally Cameron Griffiths </strong>shows you how to give new life to old tin cans</p>

How to Use Empty Soda Cans or Peanuts in Large Planter Pots

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Large pots full of brightly colored plants can look beautiful and dramatic in your back yard or garden. Many kinds of plants, though, do not need nearly as much room as large pots provide, and the plants actually may suffer if their root systems can’t reach such pots’ bottom, where water may collect. That does not mean you must settle for small plant containers, however. You already may possess the perfect large-pot fillers to boost the height of your plants without compromising their health.

Preparation

Check the bottom of the large planter pot you wish to use. The bottom must have a drainage hole.

Position the large pot in an ideal growing area for the kinds of plants it will hold. Factors include the amount of sunlight or shade the site receives each day and its shelter from wind.

Decide whether to fill the bottom of the large pot with empty, aluminum, soda cans or packing peanuts. The soda cans form an ideal platform for hiding a small plant pot in the large pot, making the cans useful if you want to plant one small plant. Packing peanuts are ideal for filling most of a large pot that will hold two or more varieties of small plants.

Soda Cans

Rinse empty, aluminum, soda cans thoroughly, inside and out.

Place the soda cans inside the large planter pot with each can’s hole facing downward. Form a ring around the pot’s bottom drainage hole with the cans.

Position a smaller plant pot, which has a bottom drainage hole, atop the cans. The brim of the smaller pot should be even with or slightly below the brim of the large pot. Trim the cans with sharp scissors if doing so is necessary for the pots’ brims to be in that arrangement. Fill the smaller pot with potting soil, and plant in it whatever plant you want to grow, following that plant’s nursery label or tag directions. Place the plant at the same soil depth at which it grew in its previous location.

Fill the large pot with potting soil up to the brim. Pack the soil carefully around the smaller pot to camouflage it.

Packing Peanuts

Sift through packing peanuts carefully, and remove all bits of debris among them.

Fill about the bottom one-half of a large planter pot with the packing peanuts. Put potting soil in the rest of the pot.

Place plants in the large pot’s soil, following the specifications on each plant’s nursery label or tag directions. Place each plant at the same soil depth at which it grew in its previous location.

How to Use Empty Soda Cans or Peanuts in Large Planter Pots. Large pots full of brightly colored plants can look beautiful and dramatic in your back yard or garden. Many kinds of plants, though, do not need nearly as much room as large pots provide, and the plants actually may suffer if their root systems can’t reach …