Garbage to Urban Garden




Introduction: Garbage to Urban Garden

About: Hello! I love sharing my passion for making useful things from refuse! If you like my stuff follow me on Instructables and check out my website at!

Urban spaces are cramped, especially in China, but I've have managed to impress our Chinese neighbors with my meager pot-based garden. I'm no expert at gardening, but it doesn't take much to get started and is very satisfying to watch grow, especially when you get to put garbage to good use . In this instructable you will learn how to do the following:

1. Reuse yogurt cups or other small cup-shaped containers by turning them into mini-pots.
2. Reuse a plastic bottle or jug by converting it into a smooth-spraying watering jug.
3. Start a small urban garden.

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Step 1: Gathering Materials

For the planter cups you will need the following:

-Clean containers: yogurt cups, old coffee cups, water bottles cut in half, etc.
-tray (my yogurt came with an additional tray)
-1/8" Screw or nail (one as big as you can find)
-A source of heat (our gas stove worked great, but a lighter might suffice)

You will need these materials for the watering bottle:

-Empty bottle or jug
-One push pin

Step 2: Convert Garbage to Seedling Planter

I felt really guilty every time I had yogurt in the morning because the only brand I like comes in these little plastic cups, so I started to hoard them in hopes of finding a better use than throwing them away. After collecting 30 or so I finally discovered that they would make perfect seed starters!

All you have to do is put holes in the bottom. To do this I grabbed a pair of pliers, heated a nail and used it to poke 4-6 holes in the bottom of the containers. Even though this process doesn't seem to create fumes, you should always turn a fan on whenever you apply heat to plastic, or find a way to do it outdoors.

If you are using a waxed paper cup, like an old coffee cup you can simply pierce the nail through the bottom, no heat is necessary.

I also trimmed the edges of mine to make them look nicer, but this isn't necessary. These yogurt containers came in a fitted plastic tray, but it doesn't matter if you don't have that. A shallow cardboard box would do, like the lid of a shoebox or the cardboard tray kind pop cans are sometimes shipped in.

Step 3: Prepare Watering Bottle

This is the one of the best methods I have come across to get a more even, natural spray of water on small plants that won't damage them and doesn't end up all over the apartment.

It's extremely simple; just find a small pin and stick holes in the top of a plastic container like a pop bottle or juice container. Something without a handle will be easier to use.

Step 4: Plant and Water Seeds

Now you can fill the little cups with dirt, leaving about 1/2 an inch of space from the top edge. How deep you plant the seeds has to do with what kind of plant you are growing, so make sure to follow the instructions on the seed packet as far as depth and watering go. Try to find a place with access to the sun by a window or outside and continue watering the plant as instructed. Usually, whenever the soil around the plant is dry to the touch it is time to water.

Step 5: Watch 'em Grow

In the pictures below you can see the plants at different stages, some just poking out of the soil while others seem to want to bust out of the containers. Once they get to be bigger like the larger plants in the first picture, it's time to think about transplanting them to a larger pot.

You can put holes in other larger plastic containers, but don't use one too big. When you transplant try to find a container that is only a little bit bigger than the previous ones so you don't shock the plants root system by giving them too much space. See the second picture to compare the pot sizes.

Keep watering and hopefully your plants will be flowering in no time.

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    3 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 5

    Inspired. I'm sure your neighbours are impressed!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I've been wanting to do a microgreens garden and this instructable is the push I needed to get started!