How to upcycle a planter – just in time for summer

Our green-fingered guru Craig Roman, of Dobbies Garden Centres, gives us the lowdown

Want to know how to upcycle a planter for summer? Choose paint shades that complement the colours of your flowers. That way, they’re sure to be Instagram-ready!

Upcycle a summer planter

  • Old chest of drawers
  • Garden paint and paintbrush
  • Black plastic
  • Gravel
  • Tub and basket compost
  • Plants

flowers kept in wooden drawers on wooden floor

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

1. Prepare the drawers

Paint the drawer unit in garden paint to waterproof and protect the wood.

2. Fill with compost

tub and basket compost on wooden board

(Image credit: TBC)

Line the drawers with black plastic before planting, then add a layer of gravel to help with drainage. Tub and basket compost is perfect for this style of planting – it contains water-retaining granules, which store water ready for release, as and when the plants need it.

3. Plant flowers

red dahlias planted on tubs and window boxes

(Image credit: Caroline Arber)

Dahlias are very much in vogue at the moment, and these dwarf Gallery dahlias are a popular choice for tubs and window boxes. They’re available in a myriad shades – gorgeous reds, yellows and pinks, plus many more. Combine with Calibrachoa (Million Bells petunia), which will trail beautifully over the edge.

4. Add height

Young sweet peas on bamboo canes are great for height and fragrance, or go for more mature plants. These are available from mid-April and can come with ready-made willow wigwams to create the same effect.

5. Water well

green plant on black pot and watering can

(Image credit: TBC)

Make sure that the compost is moist, but not wet. In very warm weather, your planters will dry out more quickly so keep a close eye on them. It’s best to feed your flowers weekly as the season continues. The food in the compost will look after them for the first month or so, but after that they’ll benefit from top-ups.

6. Tidy regularly

To keep your planter looking at its very best all through the summer, it’s important to deadhead any faded dahlia blooms frequently. This will encourage repeat flowering. And with sweet peas, don’t forget that the more you pick them, the more flowers they’ll produce, so you should have a wonderful, scented display in your planter, as well as plenty of stems to cut and enjoy in the house, too.

Deputy Editor

Jennifer is the Deputy Editor (Digital) for Homes & Gardens online. Prior to her current position, she completed various short courses a KLC Design School, and wrote across sister brands Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes, Country Homes & Interiors, and Style at Home.