Raised-bed gardens are a simple, productive way to garden. However, there isn’t always room for a raised bed. At times, you need to garden ‘outside the box’ and find creative container gardening ideas to utilize the space you have more efficiently. 

Container gardening is also a great way to ‘repurpose’ antique and vintage elements. In this post, I share some creative container gardening ideas I’ve used in my garden.

I’ve partnered with Kellogg Garden to bring you this post about gardening ‘outside the box’ and creative container gardening ideas.

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information. 

Gardening outside the box - Creative container gardening ideas

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Repurpose just about anything when you look for creative container gardening ideas

The options for container gardening are only limited by your imagination. Look around at thrift shops, vintage shops, and even big box stores for container inspiration. 

Creative container gardening ideas

Keep in mind:

  • Pay attention to the depth of planter – it will determine what root size you can plant. 
  • Small metal containers can get hot and dry out quickly – use drought-tolerant plants in the hotter months.
  • Vintage items may contain lead paint – it’s best not to consume any edible plants if you’re not sure.
  • Metal edges and shards from drilling holes are sharp – use caution.

What I did

You've got mail

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Repurposing a vintage or reproduction mailbox is a fun way to add character and whimsy to your space. 

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
Drill holes for drainage
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
Fill with potting soil
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
Place in garden with a couple bricks to keep it from tipping over
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
Dripline to mailbox
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Best for: Annuals, perennials, succulents

Keep in mind:

  • Small metal containers can get hot and dry out quickly – use drought-tolerant plants in the hotter months.
  • Vintage items may contain lead paint – it’s best not to consume any edible plants if you’re not sure.
  • Metal edges and shards from drilling holes are sharp – use caution.

What I did: 

  • Drilled holes in the bottom for drainage
  • Placed bricks inside the larger mailbox to keep it upright
  • Added a dripline to the larger mailbox
  • Filled with potting soil  
Rosemary growing in vintage mailbox

Every birdie welcome

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Bird baths aren’t just for birds. Their shallow design is perfect for succulents and other plants. 

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Best for: Shallow-rooted succulents, annuals and perennials

Keep in mind: Container may dry out quickly – will need to be hand watered

What I did: Added potting soil and coconut coir for extra water retention

Garden inside the 'tool' box

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

I wanted to add a planter to the ladders in my garden, and found that a tool box sitting on one of the steps was the perfect size. Vintage tool boxes are easy to find at thrift shops, you may even have one in your garage.  

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Best for: Annuals, perennials

Keep in mind:

  • Small metal containers can get hot and dry out quickly – use drought-tolerant plants in the hotter months.
  • Vintage items may contain lead paint – it’s best not to consume any edible plants if you’re not sure.
  • Metal edges and shards from drilling holes are sharp – use caution.

What I did: 

  • Drilled holes in the bottom for drainage
  • Screwed the boxes directly into the ladders
  • Added a hole for a drip line and threaded it into the toolbox
  • Filled with potting soil

 

Good fences also make good planters

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Using concrete blocks in my garden was born out of necessity. I needed a way to border the garden that was inexpensive and simple to do myself. Once I got the border made, I noticed the holes were perfect to fill with dirt and grow something in. 

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
Concrete blocks line the pathway
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
Each spring, nasturtium seeds sprout and grow
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
By late spring, the area is covered

Best for: Annuals, perennials

Keep in mind:

  • Small concrete openings can get hot and dry out quickly – use drought-tolerant plants in the hotter months.

What I did

  • Added compost to the holes
  • Planted nasturtium seeds 5 years ago
  • Winter rains watered the seeds, and the nasturtiums came back year after year

I can 'barrel'y contain my excitement for this one

Half-whiskey barrels large size and rustic looks make them one of my favorite ways to container garden.  Everything from dwarf citrus trees to just about any vegetable or flower does well in a half-barrel container. 

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Best for: Annuals, perennials, herbs, edibles, dwarf fruit trees

Keep in mind:

  • Half-whiskey barrels are a simple way to add extra growing space to your garden.
  • Containers are very heavy once filled with soil and plants – if you want to move it, add rollers.
  • The wood will weather and wear out over time.

What I did

  • Drilled holes in the bottom for drainage
  • Added a hole for a drip line and threaded it up into the barrel
  • Filled with potting soil – garden soil is too heavy for containers
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
Volunteer pumpkin plants in compost bins

Use compost bins - no fertilizer needed

Compost bins from the City of Mesa are a great way to compost. The City of Mesa has backyard compost containers available to Mesa residents for a $5 non-refundable delivery fee. Other cities may have similar programs. 

In the spring, my compost bins are usually filled to bursting and I love using the compost around the yard. This year, halloween pumpkin seeds sprouted in the bins and began growing up through the compost. Instead of pulling the plants, I thinned them to one plant per barrel and was happy for the volunteer plants. 

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEASGARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Best for: Annuals

Keep in mind:

  • Material that has not finished composting may be hot. Wait to plant until compost is completed and cooled off.
  • Hand water containers deeply to keep from drying out. Because soil area is so large, compost bins can be watered less often than smaller raised beds.

What I did

  • Composted in bins
  • Allowed volunteers to sprout and grow, then thinned to one strongest plant per bin
  • Mulched heavily with straw to retain moisture and cool crop during the summer

Grow bags - add space anywhere

Grow bags simple are a simple, inexpensive way to add growing space to your garden. You can purchase them on Amazon or even use reusable canvas bags. 

GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS

Best for: Annuals, perennials 

Keep in mind:

  • Grow bags can dry out quickly – keep an eye on the moisture level.
  • When you aren’t using them, storage is simple: clean them out, fold them up, and put them away.
  • Grow bags are versatile and can be moved to different areas around the garden depending on the space available and time of year.

What I did

  • Cut a slit in the side of the bag to insert a drip line
  • Filled grow bags with compost – you could also use potting soil

Grow towers have a small footprint

When you are short on space, a vertical planter (like this one from Greenstalk) is a good option. It uses only 2 square feet of space, but has openings for 30 plants. 

Best for: Non-vining vegetables – does well with strawberries, beans and herbs

Keep in mind:

  • Above-ground containers can get hot and dry out quickly in summer. 
  • Important to fill with good quality potting soil – garden soil is too heavy.
  • Fertilizing is easy – simply add liquid fertilizer to top tray when watering. 

What I did

  • Added a drip line to the top of the container for automatic watering

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GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
GARDEN OUTSIDE THE BOX – CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING IDEAS
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