Use these tips and ideas to turn a wheelbarrow into a creative garden planter. Whether it’s wood or metal, old wheelbarrows are perfect for displaying colorful annuals, trailing vines, creating mini plant nurseries, or growing plants like herbs or strawberries.
For more ideas also see Wheels In The Garden—a gallery of things with wheels used as garden art and containers.
That old wheelbarrow your neighbor is throwing out may be perfect for creating a one-of-a-kind garden planter.
Choosing a Wheelbarrow Planter
If you’re junk shopping for a wheelbarrow, here are some things to look for.
- If the wheelbarrow is wobbly, can the bolts be tightened?
- If the tray (main bowl) is rusted out or has holes, is it still strong enough to hold soil or pots?
- If the tray is ugly, can you paint it?
- Are the support legs intact?
It’s pretty rare that a wheelbarrow destined for the trash cannot be repurposed as a garden planter. If you like the look of it, grab it! With a little care, a lick of paint, and some plants, you should be good to go.
If you want to create your own using old metal wheels, check local online ads in places like Facebook Marketplace (and place your own wanted ad) as well as auction sales, yard sales, second-hand stores, and Etsy or Ebay. Also see these thrifty shopping tips.
Planting Tips & Ideas
- Line the tray with landscape fabric to protect wood and prevent soil from falling through the drainage holes.
- For plants with different soil needs, keep each in its own pot.
- For maximum wow-factor, follow the thrill—fill—spill formula, with a variety of eye-catching, lush, and trailing plants.
- Alternately, use the wheelbarrow to raise seedlings or propagate cuttings away from rabbits and slugs or snails.
- Love seasonal decorating? Place your wheelbarrow by an entry way and enjoy decorating it to suit the seasons all year-round. Pansies, pumpkins, and wintery greenery are all options.
This has fun, no-carve ways to dress up pumpkins using natural materials.
Here are some of my favorite ideas from home garden tours and my own garden.
Wheelbarrow With Wooden Trug
I got this heavy duty wheelbarrow for just $10 from a local junk seller. It was bright orange so I opted to paint it black and add white flower stencils.
The wooden trug (free instructions) can be functional or decorative. I made it to fit over the wheelbarrow to hold tools while I’m working but also love it with flower pots inside.
This explains more about the difference between annual and perennial plants and reasons to choose one or the other.
Need to figure out how much soil or potting mix you need for a container?
Use our handy soil calculator tool here. It works for containers, raised beds, and garden beds.
Antique Wood Cart
This planter is a composite of new and old materials and makes a fabulous patio planter. This one appears to be lined with landscape fabric to help extend the life of the wood.
Potato Vine Planter
The colorful foliage of the sweet potato vine contrasted with the purple flowers and reddish hue of the old wheelbarrow are gorgeous. There is a how-to guide on growing ornamental sweet potato vine here.
Use these tips to propagate sweet potato vine from cuttings—it’s very easy to do.
This reminds me of old metal wheelbarrows used for concrete work. I love how the leaves—which I assume are irises—contrast with the petunias.
If you are a rust fan, I have a gallery of rusty garden art ideas here.
Wooden Wheelbarrow and Rustic Arbor
I visited this garden many years ago and still remember how beautiful it was. The old, faded antique wheelbarrow filled with colorful flowers next to the rustic wood of the arbor—so pretty.
There is a gallery of arbor ideas here if you want more inspiration.
Antique Plain Wood Wheelbarrow
This is one of my favorites—you don’t often see these older wheelbarrows with unpainted wood. The single-color flower choice helps the planter stand out.
Sometimes old wheelbarrows have seen better days and are best anchored in the garden to live out their days.
Others, like this one, are still functional. Load it up with flowers and move it around as desired throughout the growing season.
I turned this wheelbarrow found in the trash into a strawberry planter (DIY instructions) which I have continued growing for years.
As the plants create runners, I root them in the lower section until they are ready to be transplanted elsewhere in the garden.
Garden Art Wheelbarrow
I saw this one on a garden tour. I like how they added a broken strawberry pot to the mix.
This has more unique ways to use strawberry pots in the garden.
Wheeled Planter Box
Not really a wheelbarrow but a fun use of old wheels on a wooden planter box. The masses of trailing petunias provide lots of character and color.
More Idea Galleries
25 Garden Art Projects & Ideas
by Melissa J. Will
Grab the top garden art DIY projects and tips from Empress of Dirt
This ebook is a digital file (PDF format) you save to your device. It is not a physical product.
PayPal, Credit Card, Apple Pay
Digital products are not available in EU, UK, and Northern Ireland due to tax regulations.
Thrifty Shopping Tips
Ways to find cheap or free items for crafts, repurposing, & upcycling:
- Check Your Own Stuff
Got stuff in storage? Shop your own home first.
- Family & Friends
Let people know what you’re needing. Make it clear whether you are willing to pay for items.
- Online Ads & Groups
Don’t just watch the ads but place your own stating what you’re looking for.
- Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Kijiji, Community Groups
- Buy, Sell, Barter, Trade Groups
- Garden Club and Horticultural Society plant sales
- Auction Sales | In-person or online
- Yard Sales
- Thrift Shops & ReStores (used goods including building materials)
- Retail Stores
Use free phone apps like Reebee and Flipp to easily check sale flyers and price watch.
There are countless other save-when-you-shop-through-us apps and incentive programs as well.
Off-season or end-of-season sales are always worth checking as well.
Online / Mail Order
Depending on the deal, it may be worthwhile to pay the shipping.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛