How to Turn a Dingy Old BBQ into an Herb Container Garden

by Fern on August 13, 2010

in Container Combos,Herbs,How To

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Awhile back I heard about repurposing a mini-BBQ into an herb planter. I loved it, knew I wanted to try it myself, and immediately set about trying to track down a small grill on Craigslist. Buying anything on Craigslist is always an interesting experience, you get exposed to such a bizarre element of society. But that will have to be a post for another day…

This is a really easy project that you can complete in less than an hour. To get started, here’s what you’ll need:


  • 1 small bag of good quality potting soil
  • 3-5 herb plants, depending on the size of your BBQ and how full you like your containers
  • 1 portable BBQ or hibachi
  • 1 coffee filter

You won’t need the BBQ grate or the lid, so if your BBQ is missing those, it’s perfect for this project. If you do have those two items, why not list them on Craigslist’s free items section and see if anyone needs them.


Amazingly, I actually cleaned this BBQ. Or rather, I attempted to clean it. There was a lot of baked on grime and the lower grill was pretty rusty. Anyway, the first thing to do is clean the BBQ as much as possible. Then, place a coffee filter on top of the holes in the bottom of the grill. The coffee filter will allow water to drain out but prevent the potting soil from falling through. I decided to leave the lower grill in the BBQ because I thought it would help keep the plants from sinking down as the soil settles. We’ll see how that works out…

Next, fill up the BBQ with enough potting soil so that when the plants are placed in the BBQ, the plants’ bases are only an inch below the edge of BBQ. Arrange (and rearrange, if necessary) your plants until you have a pleasing combination. As you can see, I have sage, lavender, marjoram, oregano, and chives. Obviously you’ll want to plant the taller plants near the back and the trailing plants near the edge of the BBQ.

The plants I purchased were all growing in a biodegradable pot made out of coconut coir. The idea is that you don’t have to remove the pot (and disturb the roots) to plant the herbs. However, I did cut away the top part of the pot so that it would not be visible once the herbs were planted.

Next, fill in around the plants with potting soil. Gently tamp down the potting soil as you go and make sure you get potting soil in all the nooks and crannies. I usually miss at least one spot in the middle of a pot, so double check there.

Voila! You’re done.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

melanie watts August 13, 2010 at 7:12 am

Wow, that looks fabulous Fern. Great idea.


Megan August 13, 2010 at 8:41 am

Awesome!!!! We’ve been wanting to do the same thing, but with succulents to the Weber in our backyard that no one ever uses, but it’s not ours…. Love it!


kathy April 30, 2012 at 8:25 am

Try watching the curb for tossed ones or ask on freecycle or craigslist for one that is not in working order. I am doing that with our old gas grill. I want to make it useable and our yard is not garden friendly. mostly stone driveway and tons of shade on one the only area we could possibly plant.

Fern August 13, 2010 at 9:52 am

Thanks Melanie!

Megan–Succulents would be awesome! Can’t wait to see it.


Heather August 13, 2010 at 9:59 am

Megan – sounds like an opportunity for some guerrilla gardening! ;)


Loree/danger garden August 13, 2010 at 10:44 am

Nicely done…love it!


meemsnyc August 13, 2010 at 12:58 pm

that’s such a great way to recycle! What an awesome idea.


Laura August 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Great job Fern! I did something similar with my old firepit a while back, but I filled it with Succulents. Check it out if you get a chance.\


Becki August 13, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Freecyle would be another good way to get the grill, and potentially find it for free.


Shawna Coronado August 14, 2010 at 4:52 am

SO adorable – great job Fern!



Roberta August 14, 2010 at 7:58 pm

love it love it love it


Mary C. August 17, 2010 at 1:29 pm

oh, you shouldn’t have given me another idea….


Natti August 17, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Very nice idea


kathy August 19, 2010 at 7:10 am

I like the little grill full of herbs. Clever & cute. A nice life for a senior BBQ.


Kerry August 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Very fun idea!


Dawn October 7, 2010 at 2:21 pm

As a former carnivore turned vegetarian, this is an appropriate use for my old mini weber! Thanx for the inspiration!


Fern October 8, 2010 at 10:25 am

Dawn–Hey, vegetarians can BBQ! I enjoy grilling, and I’m a veggie too.

Karen April 2, 2011 at 12:38 am

I thought of this idea last week, as I don’t want to throw out my Dad’s old BBQ, so wanted to recycle it. So I googled it and you thought of it first. Yours looks fantastic! I am just wondering if you think I should line the inside of the BBQ, with pond liner or something similar (with drainholes of course), to prolong the BBQ’s life…just not sure if the watering will cause the BBQ to rust.


Wivita April 4, 2011 at 12:45 am

I’m feeling very stupid now for actually throwing away my old BBQ.. If I ever come across another one, I’m definitely going to do this with it!


Look WhosDoinTheBBQin April 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm

An cheap and easy way to clean the BBQ…take it to the car wash! Wear old clothes and rubber boots…the powerwasher action makes quick work of getting baked on gunk and ash off the grill! And no scrubbing necessary…


Karen April 25, 2011 at 12:18 am

Our local drive-thru car wash guy comes out and tells you off if you are using your own sponge to wash your car. Can imagine what he would say if he saw me in there washing my BBQ!!!!

Jan@Thanks for today. May 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Your plantings look right at home in that grill, Fern;-) It’s quite attractive!


Jane August 9, 2011 at 10:12 am

Here’s one that was entered in to the container competition at Cornell last month.


Sylvia October 19, 2011 at 10:52 am

And here I thought I had invented something completely new and unique ;-) About two years ago I found an abandoned BBQ on the side of the road, and immediately thought of using it to create a unique garden showpiece. Mine is red enamel outside, and after I filled it with soil I planted yellow, orange and red Celosia and Salvia – it looks like flames ;-) I’ve had lots of people slam on their brakes and back up to take a second look, and/or photographs of my repurposed floral BBQ ;-)
Here’s last summers rendition;
Nice to see great gardening minds think alike!


Cheri February 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm

wonderful! Just posted on Freecycle to find a grill to make my own :-)


SUSAN April 15, 2012 at 7:03 am

What a fabulous idea and a great way to save something from going to the garbage.
Another couple of ways to find an old bar-ba-que is to walk around your neighbourhood on garbage and recycling day and see what you can find, also ask everyone you know and I mean everyone if they have an old bar-ba-que they are throwing out, also check local yard sales, look on http://www.freecycle.org (a wonderful place to find all sorts of reusable things that people no longer want), if there is a scrap yard recycling place near you go there and find one, also when you are on your daily travels keep your eyes open you will probably find a bar-ba-que


Vera Noelle April 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Wow! I brought up a broken electric BBQ a couple months ago, somebody left it beside a dumpster in decent condition, but the heating element looked damaged… my boyfriend kept begging me to throw the “p.o.s.” away, and I refused, just KNOWING I could use it for something brilliant. Voila, here’s the winner! Thank you for another awesome idea!


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