It never ceases to amaze me how the most intriguing gardens have one or two surprising containers tucked away in them. Whether it’s literally a “bed” planted with flowers or an unusual wash basin filled with blooms, I’m always awed by the many ways gardeners let their imaginations grow with their plants. In addition to producing some wonderful planters, these gardeners are also saving the planet – repurposing items that would otherwise find their way into a garbage dump.

Finished drawer planter
Turn an old dresser drawer into a cute and thrifty recycled planter!
Photo Credit: Jennifer D. Rizzo
Old drawer and paint
An old drawer and some paint will get you started on this clever planting project.
Photo Credit: Jennifer D. Rizzo
Drilling holes in drawer planter
Don’t forget to drill some drainage holes in the bottom of the drawer.
Photo Credit: Jennifer D. Rizzo
Painting drawer planter
Paint your drawer on all four sides and let dry before planting.
Photo Credit: Jennifer D. Rizzo

One of my favorite repurposed planters is a recycled old dresser drawer. How many times have you driven by a discarded dresser or desk by the side of the road and felt it was a shame that somebody couldn’t do something with it besides just throw it out? With this project, you can reuse, recycle, help the planet and have a really cute container to boot! Even if the piece of furniture is ruined or has a broken leg, those drawers can have a second life as an outdoor (or indoor) planter!

This project is perfect for ornamentals or annuals. Since many times you can find discarded furniture curbside or at yard sales, the biggest cost is a bit of paint (which you may already have in the garage, shed or basement), some potting soil and the plants.

Materials

  • An old drawer (The size depends on what you find and how big of a planting you want to do.)
  • Sandpaper
  • A drill with drill bit
  • Paint – any latex- or oil-based paint you already have (Semigloss or gloss are more durable than other finishes.)
  • Coffee filters
  • Lightweight potting soil
  • Non-edible, ornamental plants

Instructions

Prep your drawer by giving it a light sanding on the varnished areas so that the new paint will stick. After the drawer has been sanded, flip it over so the bottom of the drawer is facing up. Carefully drill holes in the bottom of the drawer to promote drainage.

Once the holes are drilled, paint the outside of the drawer on all four sides. Once the paint is dry, you can leave it as is, add hand-painted embellishments or even distress it with sandpaper.

Line the drawer bottom with coffee filters to keep the dirt from falling through the drainage holes. Then fill your drawer with lightweight potting soil. (This is important to promote good drainage and to keep the drawer light enough to move.)

If the drawer is really deep, fill the bottom of it halfway with a lightweight material like packing peanuts or broken bits of Styrofoam (just make sure you’re not using the kind made of cornstarch, which disintegrate when watered). Again, it’s a great way to reuse and recycle! Fill the container the rest of the way with your potting soil, then plant your plants!

(Note: You can also use your drawer as an indoor planter by not adding draining holes and putting plastic drip trays in the drawer bottom under some potted plants instead of filling the entire drawer with potting soil. Always water the plants outside of the drawer if using as an indoor planter – wood that gets wet and stays wet can harbor mold, mildew and bacteria.)

Move your repurposed drawer to the perfect spot in your garden, and enjoy its unique beauty. The more the planter sits out in the elements, the more weathered and rustic it will look. This recycled and thrifty planter should last at least a season or two, bringing new life to something old in more ways than one!