Living Green: Upcycle Container Gardening, the Next Step in Sustainability


Handmade individual wooden garden pots with wood carrying tray from ThinkEco²

Container gardening provides a viable option for anyone, regardless of living space, to experience the joy of growing fresh, organic produce- a cornerstone of sustainable living practices.

If you want to kick your efforts up a notch and increase your sustainability quotient, upcycling items to house your plants is the natural next step..

“Here in the Northwest, we are big fans of re-purposing items and container gardening is one of our favorite ways to do it,” says Kim Foren, owner of Geranium Lake. “We have used old wooden wine boxes to create amazing flower boxes, teacups for succulent gardens, and even a vintage Ritz cracker tin to create a tiny green space!”

Brian Behncke, founder of ThinkEco², turned his passion for re-purposing into a business, creating upcycled planters and other useful home and garden pieces from wood leftover from construction sites. He stamps his style by designing original pieces from the wood, not copies of current products.

“Wood was used for many, many years for seed starting and planting,” says Behncke. “It’s nice to use a tried and true method that has been around basically since container gardening started.”

Cedar is Behncke’s wood of choice, generally excess wood pieces gathered from fencing jobs, reclaimed and re-purposed into functional pieces.  Scanning the free lists on Craigslist or connecting with local construction companies are great resources for finding materials to create gardening containers.

Not a builder?  There are plenty of materials that make excellent containers with little prep work.  Salvaged ceramic or enamel kitchenware, steel troughs, desk drawers, glassware and stone fountains are all potential houses for plants.

“There’s no limit to what can be used for upcycling items for container gardening,” say Kim Foren.  “But there are a few tricks you should know.”

There’s no limit to what can upcycled item may be used for container gardening but for successful plant growth, Foren suggest the following:

– Use potting soil for the best results and make sure it isn’t packed to tightly.
– Give plants breathing space.  Don’t pack them too closely to one another.
– Create a drainage hole in the bottom of the re-purposed container.
– Avoid over-watering plants. Be particularly cautious if the container does not have a drainage hole.
– Choose appropriate plants for their new environment. Consider factors like container restrictions, sunlight and temperature conditions.

Chances are, you already have items in and around your home that would make ideal plant containers.  When you’re in the mood to start the next round of seeds, think outside the green box to see what you can re-purpose.


About Barb Webb

Former bartender turned organic home living expert. Foodista, lover of dogs, kids, and simple, delicious cooking. Will travel for wine. Find her regularly on, or touring the country on the hunt for the next hot restaurant or food trend. Tweet to her at @ruralmoms. If you'd like your brand, event, or business considered for an editorial or upcoming feature, contact us

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