It's that spring cleaning time again, which also means it's gardening season! And that just might mean there are lots of objects which could get a new purpose (maybe even a facelift) as a cool planter!
For 12+ ideas on objects you might have lying around, see Creative Planters From Upcycled Materials. Bras, camis, purses, baby strollers, totes, hampers, birdcages, rodent cages and so much more!!
Speaking of rat and ferret cages, Cat, who used to house rats, came up with the idea one fine spring to repurpose the old cages into planters. Read on to get inspired for your next upcycling project...
Upcycled Ferret Cage
Here's the bottom of a large ferret cage (where many rats used to live!). Tape around the perimeter so that the sides will hold. A piece of cardboard taped to the front end makes a uniform boxed size. Finally, drill or cut holes to provide aeration (a knife gets the job done, but a drill is a better choice).
To decorate the cage, Cat came up with the idea of using a plastic tablecloth. The outside of the tablecloth repels rain while the underside has a cotton material that is easy to glue to whatever object you are using. Plastic tablecloths are cheap, too; Cat got hers at a dollar store. Cut the tablecloth to fit around the cage and then use a glue gun to glue in place. Tip: run several long parallel lines of glue along the side you are working on, then quickly place tablecloth in place. If you want, you can also use your glue gun to add decorations as well, such as ribbons and plastic flowers.
Cat says: The bottom of this ferret cage holds more than 6 inches of earth: perfect for use in square-foot gardening (which I did in the 2nd year). In the 1st year, I added several trellises to the planter and had cucumbers trailing and growing upwards (as in the above pic). My neighbor was curious as to what I was growing --- needless to say, this can be a real conversation piece!
Bonus: I placed this planter on a reused table, which meant that I could grow plants on top of the table and under the table. Just great for urban gardeners or those who live in small spaces/apartments :)
Upcycled Rat Cage
The hardest part on repurposing a rat cage is cutting the wires. Rat cages come in two kinds: square and domed. Either way, you have to cut off the top using a good pair of wire cutters (essential; get at a hardware store) to make it a "perfect" rectangle.
Even though you cut the wires as best you can, the edges are still rather ragged and sharp, so inverse the whole thing and slide the ragged edges into the plastic base. That's right, turn it upside down and slide it into the bottom of the plastic base so the sharp edges are on the bottom. It might not snap into place (Cat's didn't) and it may be a bit wobbly, but once you wrap it with a plastic tablecloth, it'll be much more stable, you'll see.
Drill or cut holes in the base; then fit, cut and wrap the cage with a plastic tablecloth. Use a hot glue gun to glue the table cloth in place, including on the wire sections.
This is the same pic of the cage, repurposed! See the very top of the wire cage, where the ribbon is? When you glue the tablecloth onto the top of this wire, it comes out uneven, so adding a ribbon pretties it on up. Here, tomatoes are growing quite successfully in a sunny spot on the balcony.
Here's another upcycled rat cage! It's hard to notice in this picture, but ribbon wasn't glued onto the top edge to hide the uneven tablecloth. However, with the height of these tomato plants (which grew so high that stakes had to be used to hold them into place), no one seemed to notice! So, depending what you plant, you may be able to leave the edge undone or ribboned-on-up!
Here's yet another little "cage:" this one was used as a carrier to transport ratties when they had to see the V-E-T.
Plastic boxes were where ratties used to hide out and sleep; now repurposed to house plants! Easy to do: tape box together, then fit, cut and glue plastic tablecloth 'round. The bottom of this box (can't see in the pic) has a big hole in it, which is how it was designed, so that rats could go in and out of the box. To help the earth stay in place, add a piece of mosquito netting (yes, like the screen on your windows; very cheap at hardware stores) to cover the hole; then add earth and plant, and be merry watching plants grow :)
Many Unused Objects = Potential Repurposed Planters
See what unused objects are lying around your house and give them a creative new purpose! Fun treasure-hunting/spring-cleaning awaits! Here's a milk crate idea to get the creative gardening "juices" flowing:
The planters put up quite well year after year: the tablecloth holds in place BUT the ribbons, flowers, other decorations, etc. can fall off or may need to be re-glued in place. The decorations or ribbons can also be destroyed by critters, FYI. This is what happened to Cat's milk crate planters when a squirrel decided to pay her a visit on more than one occasion!
The idea of using a tablecloth to repurpose items also comes in handy if you have unsightly planters. For example, although Cat had thrown in some soil and seeds, she found these two storage bin planters lacking in luster.
She pulled out her tablecloth and glue gun, a few ribbons and buttons...and voila! some pretty pots to house Spice Basil (that's right, she's related to Holy Basil).
PS. See how the inside edging is uneven in this photo? You can easily glue on some ribbon to give it a finished look OR pour soil to the top to hide the edge OR wait 'til the plants grow big and no one notices ;)
To your upycling adventures :)