DIY Upcycled Toy Planter
Turn a treasured childhood toy into a whimsical container garden.
Graduation season is upon us. As our loved ones move on to the next stage of their lives – often faster than we’re comfortable with – they leave behind friends, family and...a lot of stuff. Toys, shoes, clothes and more end up in storage or in your child’s soon-to-be empty room. Why not put some of it to good use?
A handmade container garden is a great way to put a toy your child has outgrown on display and makes a sweet graduation gift. And it doesn’t have to be just for kids heading to college – teach a little one how to garden early on by turning their baby toys into planters that can grow as they grow.
You can turn practically anything into a planter by keeping a few things in mind:
An oversized, souvenir coffee mug finds a home in the garden as a basil planter that can be switched out for another plant at the end of the season or taken indoors until next summer.
The size and material of the toy will play a key factor in how you create the planter. Where you might be comfortable poking holes and tossing a plant in a plastic dollhouse, you might not want to give the same treatment to a vintage, hand-me-down tea set. Plan to line your planter with landscaping fabric to create a barrier between the soil and the toy.
Choosing the right plants will ensure your container garden’s success. Check the tags at the garden center – only mix plants that require the same watering and light conditions. Try to choose slow-growing plants that won’t rapidly outgrow your container. Pay attention to the soil, too. For example, most commercial soil blends are too rich for succulents and cacti and you’ll want to pick up a specialized potting mix.
Drainage is vital to your plant’s health. Not enough drainage can result in root rot; too much and your container garden is prone to drying out. If you plan to house your planter in the garden and feel comfortable doing so, drill a couple small holes directly into the bottom of your vessel. If you’re dealing with a delicate item you don’t want to drill holes in, you can line the bottom with a layer of pebbles. For larger items like our lunchbox planter, we potted the individual plants, placed plastic saucers underneath and then tucked them inside the lunchbox. Fill in any empty spaces with sphagnum moss.
Take a Seat
Old wood chairs can easily be converted into holders for flowerpots; simply cut a hole in the seat and slip in the pot. Doll-sized chairs don't need any extra preparation because you can just set a small pot right on the seat. Potty chairs work the best because the hole is already there. Design by Nancy Ondra
Give old hats new life as hanging gardens. Baseball hats make instant pot covers: Simply open the sizing tabs in back, slip the opening around the base of the plant and snap the tabs closed again. On straw, felt or fabric hats, cut a hole into the front or top and gently feed the plant stems through the hole. Design by Nancy Ondra
Recycle old paint cans or buy metal paint cans at hardware stores and home centers. To dress them up, drizzle craft paint around the top rim and add some drips down the sides. Cover with a coat of polyurethane to stop the cans from rusting, or leave them untreated and enjoy the rusty, rustic look that develops within a few months. Design by Nancy Ondra