Planting an upcycled suitcase raised bed

How to Make an Upcycled Suitcase Planter with Gas Pipe Legs + Giveaway!

Imagine that great vintage suitcase you’ve been meaning to do something with spilling over with blooms all summer long. This upcycled suitcase planter is a nifty raised bed, a way to give new life to old objects you might have lying around, and a unique piece of garden art all rolled into one. With a few materials and a little know-how, you can make this creative raised bed in an afternoon.Upcycled Suitcase Planter Raised Bed

Isn’t it lovely? This project is from Tara Nolan’s wonderful book Raised Bed Revolution. It contains everything you need to know about how to install a garden pretty much anywhere by creating your own raised beds using various inexpensive or upcycled materials. The book also fills you in on how to get the most space out of your raised bed, gardening on a budget, rooftop and vertical gardens, and practical tips on growing medium, planting, and watering.

Tara is here today to give us step-by-step instructions on how to turn a suitcase and some gas pipe into a revolutionary raised bed. And be sure to check out the end of this post to see how you can enter to win your very own copy of Raised Bed Revolution!

How to Make an Upcycled Suitcase Planter with Gas Pipe Legs

By Tara Nolan

Step 1: Prep the Box

Prepare the box that will rest on top of the gas pipe legs. Here, the top of the suitcase was removed simply by unscrewing part of the hinge. The hinges were left on the actual box as decoration.

Prep a vintage suitcase to upcycle into a planter

Step 2: Drill Drainage Holes

Add holes to the bottom of your box using an electric drill. Lay it aside for now.

Drill drainage holes

Step 3: Assemble All Pipe Pieces

Have a rag close at hand as you put the gas pipe parts together; they can be quite greasy.

 

Screw one flange into one end of each 24-inch pipe. On the other end, add a tee fitting.

 

To continue the leg, add one 6-inch pipe to the opposite end of the tee. To the end of that, screw on the end cap. To the perpendicular end of the tee, add a 3 1⁄2-inch threaded pipe. Repeat for the three other legs.

Assemble gas pipe pieces

Use a tee to connect each set of end legs. Your project should now be in two pieces. Attach the two sets of end legs by screwing the 6-inch pieces of pipe to the middle tees of the two leg sets so they’ll be parallel to the ground. Attach them with one union. It will take a bit of maneuvering to twist everything so it’s just so and the feet rest on the ground evenly.

 

Step 4: Determine the Perfect Leg Placement on the Box

Set the whole leg construction with the flanges touching the box, and measure where they will go so you can screw them in place.

Leg placement for upcycled suitcase planter

Step 5: Assemble the Top and Bottom

Attach the flanges to the box with screws. When you turn it back over, the box can be leveled by twisting various sections of pipe as needed to make it longer or shorter.

Assemble the top and bottom

Line the box with landscape fabric; fill with soil to prepare it for planting.

Finishing the Legs

When left outdoors, the gas pipe legs will develop a natural rust-colored patina. Be careful where you place the new raised bed, however, because you don’t want the rust to leach onto the surface. To protect the gas pipe legs from rusting, apply a couple of coats of tung oil (a food-grade oil) with a brush or a rag, wiping it off between coats. You could also use a rustproof spray paint—either a clear coat or a vibrant color.

Plant it!

This suitcase container is planted with a mix of edibles and ornamentals. Edibles have been used for their foliage, but they also can be snipped (herbs benefit from a regular trim) and added to summer recipes. The ornamentals add that wow factor—as both a thriller and a spiller—that you would find in a typical container arrangement. The prolific flowers you see along the front are Supertunia® Pink Star Charm petunias (no deadheading* required!), and the herbs include lemongrass, chives, rosemary, and sage, with a colorful chard added to the mix.

Planting an upcycled suitcase raised bed

*Deadheading is the term used to describe the act of removing spent blooms from plants. This usually encourages more blooms to grow so the plant remains showy for longer. Some plants, however, like these Supertunias® and calibrachoas, another similar-looking annual, deadhead themselves, so no maintenance is generally required (unless they become leggy in the hot, dry conditions of summer; at that point you can cut them back a bit to thicken them out as they grow back in).

Reprinted with permission from Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan © 2016. Published by Cool Springs Press.  Photography courtesy of Cool Springs Press.

About the Author

Tara Nolan

Tara Nolan is a freelance writer, editor and author with a diverse publishing background. She is a co-founder of the popular gardening website Savvy Gardening. Her first book, Raised Bed Revolution, was published in May, 2016, the same year that she also appeared as an edibles expert on a show called Garden Wisdom for WNED Buffalo, a PBS station. For over six years, Tara was the web editor of CanadianGardening.com, where she won a Canadian Online Publishing Award for the Seed to Supper newsletter.

Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan

GIVEAWAY Time!

I’m happy to be giving away a copy of Raised Bed Revolution for more amazing tips from Tara. Simply leave a comment on this post about gardening in raised beds by July 16, 2017 to enter. This contest is open to residents of Canada (excluding Quebec) and the continental United States. The winner will be selected randomly from eligible entries, notified by email, and have seven days to claim their prize. Void where prohibited by law.

  1. Jenny Young
    Jenny YoungJuly 2,17

    I guess my best hack?advice? is to plant native. Gardening is much easier when you plant things that grow naturally in your own area.

  2. logan wilhelm
    logan wilhelmJuly 3,17

    Love the “Standing Suitcase” raised bed idea, give added interest to the garden and uses found items. Now, I just need to find an old suitcase!!!

  3. Donna nutt
    Donna nuttJuly 3,17

    Love the idea and suggestion for self maintaining plants. Love less without less flowers. Awesome

  4. Teresa deaton
    Teresa deatonJuly 3,17

    Love the suitcase idea. Thought it was a drawer at first. The pipes were pricey so I would go with wooden legs. Never thought of this idea. Plan to use it I think when I get around to it. I cannot keep up with my weeds. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Krisrine T
    Krisrine TJuly 3,17

    I love the seats attached to the garden in the picture. I would make it much easier for planting and picking!

  6. Marcy Lautanen
    Marcy LautanenJuly 3,17

    I love gardening in raised beds. You can change the configuration every year and have a whole new garden. This year with my own compost the raised bed gardens are farther along and doing better than the soil level gardens!

  7. Marie Hood
    Marie HoodJuly 3,17

    I love the idea of raised bed gardening. It’s the answer for someone like me, who is disabled in my back, to be able to grow fresh vegetables. My older sister has to raised bed and they grow excellent plants with much easier access.

  8. Mary Coakley
    Mary CoakleyJuly 3,17

    What a great idea the height no stooping and its so pretty,with a name like Nolan Tara must have Irish connections thanks for sharing

  9. Linda
    LindaJuly 3,17

    My husband made a couple of raised beds out of scrap lumber, and it has made weeding and watering much easier. I really like the suitcase idea. That would make a really pretty flower display for a porch.

  10. Natalie Randall
    Natalie RandallJuly 3,17

    What a wonderful idea. Looks great and much easier than bending and crouching to work on garden beds.

  11. Mike Heffner
    Mike HeffnerJuly 4,17

    I can see where even if you didn’t have an old wooden suitcase, you could build one and add hinges and a handle to give it the same look. Looks like I have found yet another site to spend time on.

  12. Shirts, Artistic Tees, Cool …
    Shirts, Artistic Tees, Cool …July 4,17

    If you can not locate a cool T-shirt at any of these UK markets, you happen to be almost certainly the pickiest shopper around.

    But it is a fairly safe bet that you will be in a position to come across one thing you like
    that is also much additional unique than your frequent higher street shop
    — on top rated of obtaining a good bargain as well.

  13. Diane Stallings
    Diane StallingsJuly 5,17

    Except for our fruit trees, everything we plant is in raise bed.

  14. mattsgramma
    mattsgrammaJuly 6,17

    Love the suitcase raised bed garden featured by Tara. I have found certain veggies do very well in containers, which is wonderful for gardeners with back/knee issues like me.

  15. michelle arsenault
    michelle arsenaultJuly 6,17

    Loved the suitcase raised bed!

  16. Diane
    DianeJuly 6,17

    What a great idea! Will be thrifting to find some suitcases to use for this project.

  17. Annette M Cousineau
    Annette M CousineauJuly 10,17

    I ove the seats in the raised bed

  18. Sandy
    SandyJuly 10,17

    I’ve been gardening for years and love all your enchanting ideas. These raised bed gardening ideas are fabulous. Every year it gets harder to bend down. These would be perfect and I love repurposing. Thanks for all you post.

  19. Heather
    HeatherJuly 11,17

    Just planted my first raised garden bed this summer. Small peppers…will probably plant lettuce next year. :)

  20. Gayle Lund
    Gayle LundJuly 17,17

    The suitcase planter is amazing . The more weather on the pipes the better they’ll look. Love it. Thank you

Leave a Reply