Got an old or broken birdbath? Turn it into a beautiful garden planter. Have a look at these ideas to see what you can plant in a shallow birdbath using annuals, succulents, and more, or how to turn it into a rock garden or fountain.
For more galleries, also see these pictures of flower container ideas.
Make a Birdbath Planter
Concrete birdbaths are notorious for cracking. The porous material takes in moisture and busts open temperatures fluctuate. A winter deep freeze and thaw are often the breaking point.
They are also rarely designed to be safe for the birds because the water bowls are often too deep, but they do make great planters.
If you see a nice, old birdbath at a yard sale, snatch it up! If it’s cracked, the seller is often thankful to get rid of it.
Depending on your climate, you may have to put the birdbath away in storage during the cold months to prevent further winter damage.
You could also create miniature or fairy gardens with tiny plantings or insert a water-tight container and add a small circulating fountain and water garden.
I have included tips for making a birdbath planter and photos of ideas below.
5 Tips for Making a Birdbath Planter
Any birdbath can be made into a garden planter. In fact, many birdbaths are too deep for the birds to safely bathe in (they can drown) and are better used as flower planters or fairy gardens.
Just like any plant container, when making a birdbath planter, you want to consider the location (sun, rain, wind), plant choices, and growing conditions.
If you plan to add a fountain, you will also need access to an outdoor power outlet and a water-tight bowl to insert.
1 Provide Drainage
If your birdbath already has a crack in the bowl, bonus: you’ve got built-in drainage.
If not, instead of planting directly in the birdbath, consider getting a container with drainage holes that fits in the birdbath bowl and plant directly in that instead.
I found a large round plastic bowl at the thrift store and drilled holes in the bottom.
Line the birdbath bowl with stones and sit the planting container on top so the plant roots don’t get soggy.
Depending on the birdbath material, you may also be able to drill drainage holes directly in the birdbath bowl. But be careful, some will break under pressure.
Using a separate container of the same size is my top recommendation.
2Choose the Right Plants
Most popular annuals like petunias, impatiens, vinca, and ornamental sweet potato vine will do fine for a season in a fairly shallow planting area if you keep up with the watering and never let them dry out.
Check your local plant nursery for annuals that grow in small containers. These generally have short roots and last for a growing season.
If you are grouping different plants together, choose plants with similar light, soil, and water requirements.
A shallow birdbath planter is also a good place to grow and propagate succulents and cacti over the summer months (for those of us in a cold climate).
The idea gallery (below) shows lots of different plant ideas.
3Use Container Potting Mix
4Provide Adequate Sun
Place your birdbath in a spot that suits the sun needs of the plants. If you cannot keep up with watering on hot days, offer more shade to slow evaporation.
5Water as Needed
Keep your birdbath planter watered (not too much, not too little).
If your birdbath does not have adequate drainage, check the bowl daily and pour off excess water to avoid water-logging the plant roots.
Gallery of Birdbath Planter Ideas
1Birdbaths With Annual Flowers
This is a perfect example of a birdbath that would not work well for the birds. Most birds cannot swim and need a secure place to stand while splashing water onto themselves for bathing. While too hard for birds to navigate, this deep bowl works perfectly as a planter for annual flowers.
While trailing petunias and vines look really pretty, I also love a compact sedum planter like this next one.
Another trick is to sit a hanging basket in the birdbath. Once the flowers flow over the edge of the pot, you can’t tell they are not planted in the birdbath bowl.
2Birdbath Water Garden
Water plants (water hyacinth* for this one) and a gazing ball turn this birdbath into a container garden pond.
*a potentially invasive plant: avoid in ponds.
This post has instructions for making your own garden pond including everything you need to know about pumps, plants, and pond fish.
Solar Fountain Pump | Amazon
It’s a good idea to have some sort of recirculating pump to help keep the water clean. I have not tried solar pumps so check the reviews carefully before choosing one.
You can also line the birdbath with marbles.
3Broken Birdbath Bowl Planter
Some birdbaths crack along the sides of the bowl, others break off from their stands. Make lemonade from lemons and use the bowl as a succulent planter.
4Leaky Birdbath Planter
This is one of the most beautiful birdbath planters I have ever seen.
Barb of Our Fairfield Home and Garden converted this leaky old birdbath into a work of art. See her blog post here for specific details on the plants used.
5Birdbath Rock Garden
A few succulents, rocks, and decorative snail fill this birdbath planter. If you want something you can keep out year-round, leave out the plants or just add them in small pots that you can remove before winter.
Related: 16 DIY Succulent Projects
6Birdbath Fairy Garden
Here’s another creative by Barb of Our Fairfield Home & Garden. She found the birdbath in the garbage and brought it home for a makeover. See her post here for details on how she did it.
7Birdbath On A Pedestal
This one is not planted but it offers a good idea: prop a birdbath up to the height that works in your garden bed. Then plant it with something eye-popping to create a focal point.
8Miniature Rock Garden
Lynne of Sensible Gardening & Living created this miniature garden when her concrete birdbath developed a crack that could not be repaired. Visit Lynne here to read the details.
I’m not sure of the story behind this one (I saw it on a garden tour) but it looks like the bowl was made from hypertufa and set on an old pedestal. Perhaps it was always intended to become a planter as it’s way too deep for birds. Set in the middle of the ornamental grasses, it makes a great art piece.
10Gazing Ball Planter
Plants such as thyme (warm, dry conditions) work well in these planters.
Related: How to Make a Decorative Garden Ball
11For The Roses
Sometimes no plants are needed. This birdbath looks fine just as it is. Tuck it under a tree (or climbing rose) to keep it from filling with rain.
12Words In A Birdbath
The words on stones just don’t add an artful touch: they also keep the water shallow which is much safer for the birds.
13Succulents and Stones
Stephanie of Garden Therapy gave her entire backyard a makeover, taking her time to create a beautiful outdoor living space. Come see how this birdbath planter fits in.
14Multi-Level Fountain Birdbath
Time to level up! This birdbath is a natural for planting layers of hanging vines including sweet potato vine and ivy.
I hope you have found ideas for your garden.
Be sure to sign up for the free Empress of Dirt Creative Newsletter for fresh ideas every second Friday.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
Empress of Dirt
Garden Goodies Digital Bundle
9 Ebooks & Printable Garden Planner & More
by Melissa J. Will ~ Empress of Dirt
All Empress of Dirt fan-favorite garden-related digital products together—at last!
These items are digital files (PDF format) you save to your device, not physical products.
PayPal, Credit Card, Apple Pay
Due to tax regulations, digital purchases to EU, UK, and Northern Ireland are not available at this time.