Garden Structures

17 Outdoor Planter Ideas For Your Garden

wooden wheelbarrow planters painted bright blue
Written by Chris Lee

Utilising garden planters can be a great way to add depth, texture, structure and colour to your garden.

They’re also very practical. If you have a small garden, and especially if you have no flower beds or soil to work with, then garden planters can make all the difference.

Planters are also ideal for adding appeal to patios and decking, small balconies, or as a way to add a touch of beauty to your driveway.

If you haven’t worked with garden planters before, it can be a bit daunting to know where to start. That’s why we’ve done all the hard work for you with our article showcasing all the wonderful things you can do with planters to bring new flair to your garden, no matter its size.

What is a garden planter?

Planters and containers have been popular for centuries and are the perfect chance to think outside the box and get your creative juices flowing. The origins of garden planter and container gardening can actually be traced far back into ancient history. Traditionally, they were used for planting edible and medicinal plants; however, over time, they transitioned into also being used for decorative and ornamental purposes.

Garden planters, pots and containers come in all kinds of sizes, shapes and designs and allow you to introduce all kinds of beautiful plants to your garden as well as inside your home. As mentioned, they are perfect for the more modest-sized gardens, but they are also brilliant at enhancing and enriching the landscape of larger gardens.

So if you are keen to spruce up your garden or home, then we have put together lots of inspiration to help you with your garden planter journey.

Outdoor planter ideas

There are thousands of types of garden planters, pots and containers, so the options are close to unlimited. We have picked out some of our favourites to help you decide on the perfect planters for you.

Plastic planters

Starting with the basics, plastic planters can be seen in many gardens and are a great starting point for novice gardeners. Plastic planters are long-lasting and come in an array of sizes, shapes and colours. 

man holding a plastic bottle cut out and used to grow seedlings
You can even make a plastic bottle planter!

Affordable and lightweight, plastic planters generally come with draining holes at the bottom. Although they should not be used for particularly heavy plants, thousands of varieties can be grown in these planters.

Wooden planters

As with their plastic counterparts, wooden planters come in many shapes, sizes and colours and are also remarkably easy to build yourself. 

beautiful tulips and daffodils growing from a wooden planter
Wooden planters add a beautifully rustic touch to your garden

These are a great option if you want to give your garden a more rustic appearance and they also have excellent drainage. Do bear in mind that wooden planters are prone to rot, so it’s essential to protect the wood with a plastic liner.

Metal planters

Metal planters are cheap, cheerful and attractive. They can be shop bought or, if you are feeling creative, you could repurpose an old metal bucket or similar.

bay tree, thyme and lavender growing in metal planters on garden decking
Metal planters are quirky and dynamic

Metal planters can add a quirky dynamic to your garden, but you may find that they have poor drainage. It’s important to drill in holes to prevent the plants from root rot.

Ceramic and terracotta planters

Ceramic and terracotta planters are elegant and stylish and are perfect for outdoor planting. 

a ceramic planter on a garden patio
Elegant and stylish

They can be beautiful, but on the flip side, they are also heavy, breakable and expensive. So if you’re going down this route, you may wish to place them somewhere where they are unlikely to get knocked over or damaged.

Vegetable planter

Although they can be shop bought, if you have some decent DIY skills then building a vegetable planter can be a really rewarding experience.

planter filled with lettuce, spinach and celery
Grow a vegetable planter and reap the rewards

Traditionally they are built from wood, although you could easily plant in a decent-sized plastic container. This is a great opportunity to grow delicious edibles to enjoy with the whole family. Good drainage is absolutely essential for a vegetable planter so make sure you factor that in.

Fruit planter

As with the vegetable planter, the fruit planter can be bought or made and will also require good drainage. 

strawberries hanging over the side of a wood barrel
Planters can be very fruitful

You will, of course, be limited to the types of the fruit you can grow depending on the size of your planter, but even with a small space, there is still lots you can do. This is also a great way to get kids into gardening and learning about where their food comes from.

Hanging planter

Hanging planters are a quick and easy way to add a little romance and charm to your garden, and are ideal if you have limited space. Hanging baskets are a great way to add a splash of colour to your garden and are easy to care for and maintain.

purple petunia flowers in a hanging planter
Hang out with some hanging planters

You can plant anything from flowers and succulents to veggies, fruit or herbs and hanging planters are lightweight with excellent drainage.

Upcycled outdoor garden planter ideas

There are endless options when it comes to making an upcycled planter, so we decided to dedicate a whole section of this article to upcycled planter inspiration. Whether you use an old set of drawers, a ladder or an old tin bath, this is a great way to put your own personal touch on your garden. Repurposing an old piece of furniture can create a real focal point for your garden and give it it’s own unique spin.

Wheelbarrow planter

Wheelbarrow planters are a great way to give your garden a rough and rugged edge. An old, retired wheelbarrow is perfect for growing herbs and succulents, and the depth of the wheelbarrow means you can use good layers of quality soil allowing your plants to thrive beautifully. 

an old rusted wheelbarrow with stunning colourful plants growing from the top
A retired wheelbarrow can provide the perfect home for beautiful plants

Wheelbarrows are built to be durable, so this planter could last you for many, many years. You may need to drill in drainage holes to allow your plants to flourish fully.

Mason jar planter

Upcycled mason jars make for stylish and trendy planters and are great for growing herbs and cacti. You can place the jars on your patio or decking or, with a piece of twine, could be hung from a wall or a branch.

three herb plants in mason jars sat on a wooden table
Stylish and trendy mason jar planters

Mason jar planters are also a fun project to make with your kids and, because the jars are glass the children can see the roots of the plants growing, presenting the perfect opportunity to educate them on how and why plants grow.

Teapot planter

An old teapot can be an adorable and whimsical addition to your garden and will really give the space character. These are another easy upcycle project and are an attractive way to display plants. This is another planter that, with some types of teapots, you can also hang.

saxifrage plant with small white flowers growing from an old ceramic teapot
Just a teapot planter hanging out

It’s always so disappointing when you discover a crack in your favourite teapot but, by transforming it into a planter, you can continue to enjoy your cracked pot for years to come.

Ladder planter

Repurposing a ladder to display plants is a great way to add additional levels and structure to your garden. They are also a great way to liven up a dull, empty garden wall.

street planter made from a wooden ladder
 Ladder planters can liven up a shabby old wall

You may want to consider painting your ladder planter some funky colours to breathe life into and a splash of colour to your garden. With a keen eye, a ladder planter can be a real showstopper and a talking point among guests.

Pallet Planter

If you are running out of space on your patio and decking then using a pallet as a planter could be just the ticket to add more plants to the area. A pallet planter allows you to grow vertically and use very little ground space.

a colourful painted pallet hung vertically and used to grow plants
Funky, punky pallet planter

Great for growing vegetables, fruit and herbs as well as gorgeous, colourful flowers and with a lick of paint a pallet plater can be hugely impactful on your garden, breathing new life into it.

Wellington boot planter

If you are thinking about disposing of your old wellies, then stop right there. Wellington boots can make wonderfully unique and characterful planters that can add fun and whimsy to your garden.

plants growing from painted wellies in Yorkshire, UK
Add a bit of whimsy to your garden with wellington boot planters

If you are particularly good at art, you could also paint patterns or flowers on the boot planters to add an extra special layer of charm and personality.

Toy truck planter

Still got old children’s toys hanging about but can’t quite bring yourself to throw them away? If you are still feeling sentimental about that little toy truck your kid was so enamoured with then why not display it as a beautiful planter?

a toy truck used in a wooden planter
Make a cute toy truck planter

It needn’t just be limited to toy trucks either. There are plenty of children’s toys that are simply perfect for planters, and it’s a great way to hang onto things without them taking up space at the back of cupboards.

Hanging shoe rack planter

An old hanging shoe rack can easily be converted into the perfect outdoor garden planter. Vertical gardens are so popular these days, and these types of shoe racks look like they were made for the job.

shoes hanging in a white shoe rack
Grow vertically with a shoe rack

Shoe racks are ideal for growing herbs which you can use in your cooking, and also make a superbly attractive backdrop to a patio or decking.

Colander planter

Colanders already have built-in drainage so are perfect for an outdoor planter. They can also easily be transformed into a hanging planter. Most plants will thrive in these planters, making them a cute and kooky way to decorate your garden.

viola flowers and bellis perennis growing out of a colander
Colanders are a cute way to decorate your garden

You can even spray the colander to give it your own personal style. However, if you do paint it, because of the chemicals, it would be best to avoid planting edibles like fruit and veggies and herbs.

Tyre planter

Got an old tyre lying around? Tyres make for excellent outdoor planters and can be used to grow both horizontally and vertically. Tyres can also be painted in different colours to help accentuate the aesthetics of your garden.

tyre planters hung from bamboo in a vertical garden
Tyres can be used to grow both horizontally and vertically

If you have access to quite a few tyres, you can also stack them on top of each other to help you play with different levels in your garden.

Have we planted an idea?

Hopefully we have planted not one but lots of outdoor garden planter ideas and you are ready to get planting, and when it comes to choosing or upcycling planters your imagination really is the only limit. 

Planters are an ideal solution when you are limited on space, and they’re generally a brilliant way to give your garden its own unique twist.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and use all of your creative talents and soon your garden will be filled with perfect outdoor garden planters.

About the author

Chris Lee

Chris is interested in nature and the good things that happen when people are in it. He is a freelance writer, with writing published about cycling, green living, and ways to make a difference without fundamentally restructuring your lifestyle.

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