Make These Concrete Planters Using Your Recyling Bin

How to Make Concrete Planters

These DIY concrete garden planters are simple to make in just a weekend and with materials you may already have around the house. They look modern with unique shapes that come straight from the recycling bin!How to make concrete planters

I made these planters many years ago, and have since made many more for gifts and to decorate my home garden.Make these concrete planters using your recycling bin!

At the time I didn’t write out the whole tutorial with steps and materials, so here it is:


  • Plastic containers to use as molds—choose all sorts of shapes for the molds, but make sure that the plastic is strong enough to hold the shape of heavy concrete. If the sides of the container are too flimsy, they will warp and you will get some weirdly-shaped planters (although they may also turn out kind of fabulous!).
  • Cooking oil
  • Foam brush
  • Fine concrete (topping or repair concrete)—standard concrete has gravel in it and these larger stones will affect the overall look of your planters. Look for a smooth concrete made of sand and no large rocks, typically used to repair concrete or as a top coat for rough surfaces. As long as the planter isn’t huge, this will be the best concrete to choose.
  • Trowel
  • Rocks
  • Instructions
  • Drill
  • Concrete drill bit

How to Make Modern Concrete Garden Planters

Make it!

Thoroughly grease the containers with cooking oil so that the concrete doesn’t stick. I’ll write it again for emphasis: thoroughly. It can be tough to get the concrete out of the molds, so take some time and grease them up well. You will thank me later.How to Make Concrete Garden Planters (step 1)

Mix the concrete by following the instructions on the package. Scoop concrete into a large mold and set a second, smaller mold into the first one. Make sure that you grease both the outside and the inside of the smaller mold. You can fill the smaller one with more concrete and insert an even smaller mold in that one. Keep going until the planters get too small and fill the final one with some pebbles to weigh it down.How to Make Concrete Garden Planters (step 4) How to make these concrete garden planters from plastic containers

Top up all of the planters with more concrete and tap them to remove bubbles. Smooth the surface so they even.

Let the planters dry for 24 hours. Unmold them by shaking the concrete loose, or cutting it away where it is too difficult to remove. It may take a bit of work, but if they were well oiled this is where you will thank me.concrete garden planter made from plastic container

I have used the same containers many times over now, so it is possible to get them out with some upside-down shaking.

Now, let the containers cure for another week or so to ensure that they are fully ready for drilling. Use a concrete drill bit to drill a hole into the bottom of the planter for drainage.

Plant them up with sedum or annuals and keep them well watered. Set them around the garden and enjoy!gorgeous and unique square planter DIY project

I like to use concrete for building outdoor projects and I have used it quite a lot. To me, it is like making garden sculptures!

I made a version of these planters with concrete dye layers for my book, Garden Made. I added PVC pipe for drainage in that project.

Garden Made Book Concrete Planters project

The PVC pipe requires measuring it and cutting it to the right height to go from the inside planter to the outside one. Oil it well and pour the concrete around it. You can certainly use this method or the drilling method that was described above for making drainage holes. Each has its merits and both require some finicky work. With the PVC pipe, you will inevitably be chipping at it (or drilling it!) to get the excess concrete out of the hole, so choose your method based on what you have on hand. How to add drainage into concrete planters with plastic pipe

You can also make some stepping stones while you are at it. Like these:

Leaf Print Stepping Stones

Leaf Imprint Stepping Stones DIY Project

Large Leaf Cast Stepping StonesHosta Leaf Concrete Stepping Stone DIY

Adorable Hopscotch Stepping StonesHow to make concrete stepping stones for the garden with numbers set in rocks

Or you can visit here for my other concrete garden projects.

About the Author : Stephanie RoseAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Mary Jane
    Mary JaneJuly 18,15

    Would it be possible to put a piece of 1/2 inch pipe in the bottom and cement around it to get your drainage hole instead of drilling? Or something similar.

    • Stephanie
      StephanieJuly 18,15

      Yes, I have also done this by setting in a piece of PVC pipe into the bottom of the concrete. from trying both methods, I think they both have merits. You may need to still use the drill with the pvc pipe, but it will be easier.

      • Gary Hopper
        Gary HopperAugust 2,16

        Try using a piece of styrofoam. It dosent even need to be round.and it’s easy to pick out .

      • Judith Pohlers
        Judith PohlersMay 6,17

        Could you use a slightly bigger piece of pvc pipe allowing it to rise up a couple of inches inside the planter, surround it with small stones and allow some water to be retained at the bottom of the planter? You would need to cover the top of the pvc with some kind of mesh to prevent soil from falling through.

  2. Carolyn McCartt
    Carolyn McCarttApril 26,16

    I am so excited to try making all of these beautiful cement pieces. I am also very excited to receive your newsletters…can’t wait!!

  3. (480) 335-7373
    (480) 335-7373May 2,16

    Geat delivery. Sound arguments. Keep up the good work.

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    concrete cutters aucklandAugust 9,16

    I think by reading your blog today I have become a big fan of yours writing. I am definitely going to subscribe your blog and I am looking to follow you skills of writing as it is superb and amazing. Thank you so much for writing this blog.

  5. Jason Roland
    Jason RolandMarch 6,17

    The options are literally endless when it comes to concrete. Any shape you can think of, might make a great planter. I love yours!

  6. Barb
    BarbApril 10,17

    I have made many of those planters and they are GREAT! But once you master that making molds is the next great thing to do. And it is easy and cheap. You can even make your own sculpture and mold it… see here:

  7. Amy
    AmyMay 10,17

    wow, they looks cute, thank you for your sharing

  8. Ann Katelyn
    Ann KatelynMay 11,17

    Woww, That is great and creative. I will make them with my children.
    Many thanks for your awesome ideas.

  9. James Mike
    James MikeMay 29,17

    That is an excellent and informative article about how to make concrete planters. Now I can make this planter in my garden. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Brandy
    BrandyJune 17,17

    I have some sanded grout powder leftover from a bathroom floor. Do you think it would work for making planters?

  11. Jane Miles
    Jane MilesAugust 13,17

    So cute! Need more colorful! I will use it in living room.

  12. Kay
    KayAugust 18,17

    I wish I had read you before destroying half a dozen buckets and scraping my hands trying to remove the concrete from the containers! :-)

  13. Angela
    AngelaSeptember 10,17

    That’s great, thank you for your sharing

  14. Jason
    JasonOctober 24,17

    Thanks Stephanie the way you explained and made those concrete planters sounds easy. but my problem is that I want to make double even triple larger than these. and I was afraid to start because I don’t want to waste both efforts and time but Now after reading your experience I think I should try with smaller concrete pots then go for larger one. Going to subscribe Your feed burner RSS. Hope I’ll get the notifications for more creative DIY Ideas.

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