Urban Jungle (sort Of): Recycle an Old Piece of Furniture Into a Lush Mini-garden





Introduction: Urban Jungle (sort Of): Recycle an Old Piece of Furniture Into a Lush Mini-garden

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Story & photos by Emilie Zanger
Courtesy of Venus Zine

Sadly, its a fact of urban life that city-dwellers can go days or even weeks without real contact with nature. If life in a concrete forest has you craving chlorophyll, but your tiny walkup apartment has only a postage stamp-sized balcony or back stoop to green, try planting a container garden in that old, unwanted piece of furniture you havent yet been able to unload on Craigslist. We promise it will look a whole lot prettier with leafy greenery spilling out of it.

� an old dresser, trunk, or drawer (depending on your space situation)
� latex house paint (optional)
� heavy-duty plastic trash bags
� staple gun or hot-glue gun
� drill
� container soil
� plants
� stones

Step 1: 1

1. Thoroughly clean your soon-to-be planter and allow it to dry. If you want, give it a new coat of paint to freshen up its appearance.

2. If your planter is made of wood, you will need to line it to prevent wood rot from watering your plants. Use a staple gun or hot-glue gun to attach the plastic trash bags to the inside of your planter, paying special attention to the top edge.

3. Drainage is really important to the health of a garden, so use a drill to make some drainage holes about the size of dimes through the liner and the bottom of the planter.

Step 2: 2

4. Now it’s time for the fun part! When choosing plants, consider your climate, how much sunlight your garden will get, and how much maintenance you can commit to. African violets are beautiful, but maybe a selection of cacti, which require almost no care, is more your speed. Plants you buy at a nursery will have tags that indicate the best climate and the care required for each species.

5. Fill your planter with container soil up to the point where the liner ends. A note about soil: Choose your container soil based on the plants you’re growing. For most green plants, simple potting soil will work just fine; cacti and other desert-dwelling succulents, however, require a sandier soil. Check the bag to see what you’re getting.

Step 3: 3

1. Gently remove a plant from its plastic pot and check the roots; if they’re tightly intertwined, loosen them a bit with your fingers. Dig a hole in the soil roughly the size of the plant’s root ball and sink the plant into the soil, making sure the base of the stem is above the soil. Pat the soil softly but firmly around the plant to keep it in place. Repeat with all of the plants.

Decorate the top of the garden with stones or a cute little garden gnome.



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    This is great. I'd need to carefully select low light plants, since I live in a basement, but great idea. I think I'll use something more compact (floor space wise) as well, like a narrow chest of drawers, with plants growing out of the open drawers. Thanks for the ideas. Shooby

    1 reply

    This looks like a great idea with admirable results, but is there anyway to normalize the colors in the pictures? It makes it sort of hard to see what you've done. I like the recycling aspect of the project, though!

    1 reply

    In any graphics program, there should be a tool to "invert colors". That will take care of the "negative" effect you see in the pics above.

    I like this idea. I find tossed out drawers all the time too! I am gonna make a flower fence around the front of my lawn. Thanks!

    neat idea, there is a guy down the street who's getting a lot of grief from neighbors because he has an old porcelin toilet he is growing plants out of.I thought it was tastefully done my self,another guy uses an old ore cart from an abonded gold mine along with a bit of track, that looks cool.

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    His neighbors have no sense of humor.
    Where I'm from we have a lot of "Our Lady of the Bathtub" (a stue of MAry in a half buried cast iron claw foot tub) but I would much rather see an overfloed toilet, perhaps with wave petunias

    I wonder, does he plant from just the seat bowl or the big water tank in back as well?

    I used an old barbecue grill to plant my begonias. I felt bad throwing it into the dumpster. This photo was taken last month, so the plants have grown taller since.

    bbq and cilantro(Small).jpg

    Unless I honestly did not care if the dampness ruined the piece of furniture, I wouldn't do this.

    1 reply

    That's why you line it with plastic trash bags or construction/painter's plastic. Or use a plastic container.

    i'm heading to the thrift store to find the perfect planner tomorrow morning! awesome. thanks

    craigslist nearly always has clawfoot bathtubs and hottubs for free, i've often thought about getting one and loading it up with plants, but they're so heavy. i don't think i'd ever use wood though...

    4 replies

    fantastic! would be really heavy though, but worth it. when i finally get my dream garden going, i think the length wise two seat version might be a great addition. great link!

    I'm not sure the lengthwise seat would work as you're halving the bath along the middle (for either setup) which wouldnt leave much for your arse to hang off

    VERY cool... I came across a really nice sofa/love seat for my apartment (yay garage sale)... but I could use some more seating :P Maybe I can make it configurable.... put it together one way... its an arm chair... put it together another way -- its a bench.... off to craigslist :D

    also, i have to give props for finally putting more than one picture on an instructable, keep it up.

    very neat idea, you could even replace the top panel with glass/plexiglass to make a mini glasshouse for those cold rainy days. Or for growing tomatos etc.