Those greens probably won’t live forever. When their time comes, it’s time for your planter to start its second life.

By Kelsey Ogletree
August 21, 2019
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Fall has its highlights—think autumn decor and near-endless fall activities—but, inevitably, the onset of a new season means the end of the outdoor plants and container gardening efforts you’ve worked so hard to cultivate the last few months (or, let’s be honest, may have accidentally killed halfway through the summer). Now you’re left with empty planters and plant containers stuffed in storage or stacked inside your garage with a long winter ahead.

Those common garden tools can be saved for the next planting season or put to use with container garden ideas or house plants indoors, of course. But if you don’t want them taking up wasted space until the next outdoor planting opportunity or you’re not sure you want to tackle plant parenting again, there are options. You can give these planters new life by repurposing them for other projects, both indoors and out. Take a look at these planter ideas from experts, and you’ll be reconsidering whether you even want to pick up new plants come spring.

Use one as a side table

If you have a large planter that’s empty (and clean), simply flip it over to make it into a table. “You can decorate it however you want to match the aesthetic of the room, whether you paint it, drape a cloth over it, or add a slate to the top,” says Lauren Grech, CEO of LLG Events in New York.

Let them eat cake

Bring smaller planters into the kitchen and use them as dessert stands. “Next time you’re hosting your kid’s birthday party or a holiday dinner, you can make a cute display by placing trays of cupcakes and cookies on planters of different sizes and heights,” Grech says.

Organize footwear

Have a shoe-free home? Nicole Alexander, founder and principal designer at Siren Betty Design in Chicago, suggests placing a large planter full of soft slippers by the front door so your family can easily swap out their shoes for a pair when they get home. (It’s nice to have extras on hand for guests to put on, too).

Repurpose as a wastebasket

Alexander says to scrap the plastic trash baskets and swap in a medium-sized planter to hold waste. This planter idea can fit in well as decor under desks, especially when painted.

Mount one to the wall

You can use empty pots as mounted storage for items such as hand towels in the bathroom. First, spray paint the pot a nice color to match the color of the room, says Monique Capanelli, principal designer with Articulture Designs in Austin, Texas. If there’s already a hole in the bottom of the pot, add a washer and mount with a screw. (If there isn’t one, use a masonry bit to drill through terra cotta, Capanelli says). Be sure to mount on a stud, or use a drywall anchor to hold it in place.

Corral little items

Smaller pots make an excellent holder for pens and pencils on your desk, utensils in your kitchen, or even tools on your workshop table or art studio, Capanelli says. To avoid having it look like a plain old planter, “spray paint or wrap the pot with a fun fabric print to make it a beautiful addition to your space,” she says. 

Use them to bolster other plants

You can use planters to help keep your still-growing plants alive. For example, toss empty ones over plants in a garden when mulching at the end of the season to prevent them from getting covered in mulch, says Pol Bishop, a professional gardener and plants expert at U.K.-based Fantastic Gardeners. He also recommends using old pots to protect existing plants from frost at night.

Stash one in the guest room

“Oversized planters are ideal for displaying extra guest towels, especially when you have family visiting for the holidays,” Alexander says. Simply roll up the towels and place them in the planter vertically for a display that looks much prettier than stacking them on the bathroom counter.

Turn it into a present

For a cute gardening-themed gift, pick a small planter and stuff it with gardening gloves, a few small hand tools and seeds for next year, says Elizabeth Tulipana, founder of Anticipation Events in Chicago.

Light it up

Place votive candles inside small planters to create romantic outdoor lighting for your patio, Tulipana says.

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