ImageEveryone loves unique planters, but the pricey offerings at most nurseries and garden centers leave precious little money for plants. This attractive little planter was created from a $1 chair, some pass along plants and an old terracotta flowerpot. Purchased potting mix and a few moisture retaining crystals completed the materials list. My niece Cassidy, was a willing model and enjoyed creating this frugal piece of garden art.

The rusty patio chair was a forlorn little offering at a local estate sale. Many shoppers passed it by without even a glance. To me, it was a treasure. I purchased it and two others for $1 each and I'm sure that most of the people who observed me loading them into my car were quite puzzled at what I could want with them. They probably thought I was a bit crazy and by the look of glee in my eyes as I drove off with my prizes, they may have been right. Cassidy was a bit unsure about the whole project when she volunteered to be my model, but I assured her that the end result would be fantastic and to trust me...

Found objects make great garden art and someone with a creative eye can transform, or repurpose discarded items into unique conversation pieces. Here at Dave's Garden, we have the Trash to Treasure Forum for members to show off their frugal finds. Members and subscribers alike, gather there to display and discuss their delightful plunder from curbsides, barns and tag sales. Come join them and show off your own Frugal Gardener Finds.

Safety first. Since she is using power tools, Cassidy dons protective goggles and gloves. The air grinder with a cut-off wheel was available, but as rusty as this chair was, it wasn't entirely necessary. The air tool made quick work of the task, but several good tugs on the rusty cross pieces would have had the same result. (we just thought the sparks would look cool!)


The rusty bottom didn't take long to remove and the ring it was attached to was quite solid. The rust was simply surface rust and only added to the effect.


Cassidy places the terracotta pot in the resulting hole and it fits like a glove. Measure your container before you get started, to make sure it works!


Coffee filters make a good cover for the drainage hole. She uses 5 or 6 for strength. This prevents the potting mix from seeping out the hole and making a mess on your patio.

filling planter

We purchased a bag of potting mix for this project. Our garden soil has a high clay content and isn't suitable for containers. The potting mix does not compact into a impenetrable mass like our soil does, so roots can grow and plants stay healthy.

moisture crystals

Even though Cassidy is planting succulents in this container, she's adding some hydrated moisture-retaining crystals. A few of these keep just enough moisture near the roots during the blistering summer heat and the plants stay healthier.

soil goes in over the moisture crystals

A bit more potting mix on top of the crystals, finish filling the container. Things are starting to shape up and the little frugal planter is beginning to materialize.

starting to plant

Some of my succulents needed dividing and there were a couple of small plants propagated in the Gronomics planters that needed a new home. The hens and chicks originally came from DG member and dear friend, 'Yardbird' nearly a decade ago.

adding plants

Cassidy is arranging the plants in their new home, making sure to leave room for their eventual growth. It is important to leave space for new plants to expand, or you'll end up with an overcrowded container that will need a make-over earlier than it should.

watering in

A gentle spray of water settles the potting mix and cleans the plants. Even though these are succulents, capable of surviving with very little moisture, new transplants need water until the roots are established.

washing up

Clean-up is important and a quick blast of the hose washes the excess soil off the concrete.


The finished product! Cassidy has a one-of-a-kind piece of frugal garden art. The most expensive item in the whole project was the bag of potting mix. We settled the planter under the crape myrtle, where it gets filtered sunlight. When the young plants are established, it will be moved to a sunnier area and its permenant home.

finished planter

Two weeks later, the young plants are established, actively growing and ready to face the harsh sunshine in the main garden. Our Frugal Gardener project is a lovely success!