Introduction: Portable Secret Garden - Trash to Treasure

About: An Instructabilist

This instructable is how I converted an old fish tank stand found in the trash, into a mini raised secret garden with the ability to accommodate hanging plants as well as smaller potted plants. All the plants can be removed from the garden, and the bins can be lifted off making it not to heavy and fairly easy for two to move it around to just the right spot - for your own portable Secret Garden!

Since it's held together with zip ties, all you need to do is cut the zip ties after removing all the planters and bins. Now you can store the base and lattice sheets in a shed.


A stand that will hold the bins - I found mine in the trash, but you could always make one from scrap wood.

Bins (or totes) which will fit in the stand. I used the 18 Gallon sized ones.

Wood Lattice - 4 ft width (I used 1 sheet).

Wood Lattice - 2 ft width (I used 3 sheets).

Zip Ties - used to secure the lattice to the frame.

10" Elastic Straps (Bungee Cords) - used to secure small planters to the lattice.

1/2" PVC pipe - will be used to hang plants on.

2 PVC pipe end caps - will help keep the rod in place.

1 PVC 90 degree - optional - used for irrigating the garden (not shown)

1 PVC female garden hose end to PVC pipe - optional - used for irrigating the garden (not shown)

10ish screw in sprinkler head sprayers - optional - used for irrigating the garden (not shown)

1 piece of 1" wide wood to make the vertical support - if you want to give more support to the top lattice.

Potting Soil - I found my 18 gallon bins used 2 cubic feet of potting soil.

Step 1: Find a Base to Use

The first thing is to either find a base to use, or create one from wood or metal (if your a welder).

Below is the frame I found in the trash - my first thought was I could use it to support a couple of bins or totes for a small raised garden. That seemed like a much better use than to put in the trash heap!

Next step - Find some Bins that will fit onto (or into) the stand you have chosen!

Step 2: Find Bins That Fit

The next step is to find bins which will hold your potting soil. I first thought the bins I purchased (18 gallon bins) would sit on top of the metal stand I had found, however it turned out they sat inside and the outside edges of the bins sat perfectly along the edges! Also the stand I found was able to hold two (2) bins like it was made for this job.

Depending on the stand you use, will determine what size totes you need to use, and how many you can use.

You will need to poke a few drainage holes in each bin, so the water can drain out when it rains. I put mine about 1" from the bottom - 3 of them on each bin - about 1/4" in diameter.

Now we get to dress up the stand and bins so It looks a little prettier when it's sitting outside your home!

Step 3: Add Lattice Sheets to Sides and Back

The stand i was using was 4 feet wide by 2 feet deep. This was great since lattice comes 2 foot widths and 4 foot widths - I chose the lattice that was made of wood (and is very thin) instead of the vinyl lattice because the vinyl lattice was too flimsy and didn't have any strength. I made the height of the lattice sheets to be just under the height of the window which it would sit in front of. I first secured the back piece of lattice to the frame using zip ties, then secured the side pieces of lattice using zip ties. Finally I secured the side pieces to the back pieces also using zip ties. Once the three pieces of lattice are secured to themselves and the frame, it is really quite sturdy.

In the next step we will put on the top of the garden together.......

Step 4: Add Lattice to Top and Front

I wanted to be able to hang plants as well as plant in the bins. My first attempt was putting wood across. it helped stabilze the lattice but was difficult to hang plants from.

Since the wood when placed from side to side help stabilize the garden walls, I decided to add two more pieces of 2 foot wide lattice. One piece for the top, which would then attach to both sides and the back piece which would really make it stable - as well giving a shelf to place things on that wouldn't fall through. The other piece since my frame was 2 foot high as well, as 4 foot long - one 8 foot length of 2 foot lattice sheet would be sufficient to give you both the top and front pieces (assuming your base is 4 foot by 2 foot by 2 foot).

ok. Now onto the next step - installing the pole for hanging plants. Now that we strengthened the garden it should hold a PVC pipe across the sides.

Step 5: Add a Rod to Hang Plants From

I used 3/4" PVC pipe as my hanger with end caps which when zip tied to the side lattices, hold the bar very securely. I chose PVC pipe over a wood dowel because I was planning to add an irrigation option using about 10 spray heads screwed into the PVC pipe and hooked to a hose for automated watering.

I felt the garden needed a little more support for the top piece (the roof) - so I made a support using solid wood.

Step 6: Add a Support to Give the Top More Stability

For the support I used a 1" wide pine solid wood strip. One piece of wood to go from front to back across the frame. A second piece would attach vertically and connect to a third piece which runs under the top lattice piece. I used a wood glue to hold the pieces together but screws would work as well.

Step 7: Prepare the Bins for Planting

I found that each bin used about 2 cubic feet of potting soil - that will differ depending on the size of the bin you chose to use. In the left bin, I had planted lemon grass up front and cherry tomato in the back. For the right bin I chose something different. I repurposed some fast food large plastic drink cups. put drainage holes in the bottom and planted carrots in them, so each carrot gets it's own little universe. In the center I put a couple varieties of basil. I later added more plants by using bungee cords to secure them to the garden frame.

Step 8: Layer Small Plants Using Elastic Cords (bungee)

Using 10" elastic cords (bungee cords) I secured a pepper plant to the corner of one bin. You can wrap these cords around small planters like the chives, or sage. I also found a place to set the excess basil plants I had. The down side to using small planters is that the soil will dry out faster so you will need to water more frequently which was why I was going to add an irrigation ability later.

Step 9: Adding Irrigation to the Garden

This step I have not done yet - so I don't have completed pictures of this.

If you used this adapter on one end of the PVC pipe for hanging plants instead of just an end cap, you can hook a hose up to the pipe. Drill maybe 10 holes in the pipe and then screw in spray nozzles (not sure of the drill bit size required, so read the directions for the spray nozzles to find that out). The amount of water coming out of the nozzles would be controlled by the hose faucet - turn the handle one way and get more water, turn it the other way and get less water.

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