Stylish DIY Container for the Balcony Gardener on a Budget

by Fern on June 29, 2010

in Frugal Container Gardening,How To,Popular

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Being on a budget doesn’t have to mean using ugly containers. If you’re willing to put a little elbow grease into converting a cheap plastic pot into something unique and stylish, then you can have nice looking pots for less than $20. Hunt down garage sales and scour Craig’s List to find inexpensive pots. Then with $10 of paint and stenciling supplies, you’ll be well on your way.

Supplies Needed

  • Plastic pot
  • Spray paint (for background color)
  • Outdoor house paint (for pattern color)
  • Smooth paint roller
  • Stencil
  • Stencil paint


Lay out plenty of newspaper in a well ventilated area. Place the pot upside down and spray paint on in short, even strokes. When entire exterior is covered, flip the pot right side up and paint top of pot edge and the top two inches inside the pot. Allow to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Use your stencil to mark out the placement around the pot with light pencil marks (so that you can space it out evenly). Apply the stencil glue to the back side of the stencil according to the package instructions. Place the stencil in the first spot and smooth it down so that the stencil glue is holding it in place. Use the paint roller to apply an even coat of paint all over the stencil. Skip a spot and reapply the stencil to the pot and roll another coat of paint on. Repeat all the way around the pot until your pattern is complete.

Allow the paint to completely dry overnight before planting.


UPDATE: Adriana of Anarchy in the Garden has posted tons of photos from the Patchwork Festival where I used this pot in a tomato growing demonstration.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan June 29, 2010 at 10:09 am

Beautiful!!!! Going to have to try this out. I knew there was a good reason we have a mountain of empty pots sitting in thecirner of our yard.


Laura June 29, 2010 at 10:11 am

I saw this on twitter when you made it! Stunning! Thanks for sharing the how too! I might look at this project in the fall when some of my pots empty out.


Adriana @ Anarchy in the Garden June 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Only you can turn containers from drab to fab!


Mary C. June 29, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Lovely! I love hand (spray) painted pots!


Kate July 2, 2010 at 12:27 am

This is a rad idea, but I must say you’ve also done an exceptional job executing it! The white on black looks really sharp ;)


Roberta January 3, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Wow!! I love it!!!! how creative you are! I just found your great
blog thanks to P. Allen Smith website, I’m thrilled!
Thanks for sharing :)


Garden pots March 1, 2011 at 1:18 am

This a really cool idea for making a garden pot- I will certainly have to try this out.


mmc May 8, 2011 at 5:57 am

nurseries throw out hundreds of pots. Ask them for them for free, thought they have the grooves, often.


meemsnyc June 6, 2011 at 11:22 am

This is so pretty. Is it safe to plant edibles in painted pots?


Fern June 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Depends on the paint, whether you painted the interior of the pot, and the pot’s material.

richa January 10, 2012 at 7:17 am

thats so innovative…just changedthe original lok…m surely going to try this out:)


Donna LeBrun January 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

This is beautiful – I have enjoyed your website and love seeing your new and creative ideas! Looking forward to getting your book too:)


Fern January 12, 2012 at 11:55 am

Thanks Donna! I hope you enjoy the book!

Linda January 16, 2012 at 7:21 am

Where did you find this stencil? Thanks.


Fern January 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I think I bought it at Joann’s. If not there, Michael’s.

Cat January 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Do you need to put a lacquer or spray finish over it to protect it if you leave outside?


Fern January 19, 2012 at 8:20 pm


Arleen January 22, 2012 at 8:58 am

Where can I find that awesome damask stencil? It’s exactly what I want but can’t find it at Michael’s…


Fern January 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Arleen–As a I mentioned above, I got it at either Michael’s or Joann’s.

Sarah January 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Such a cute idea! Will the color fade at all?


Fern January 25, 2012 at 2:28 am

I’ve had this pot for over a year with any fading.

Sandy February 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I came up with the idea of stenciling a plain pot yesterday. Just did think about painting the entire pot first. Now I see it on here, this is great. I think I’m goning to like this site.


Sandy February 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

should be *didn’t think

Barb February 28, 2012 at 4:49 am

This turned out great! Have you ever tried this on a clay pot instead of plastic? The winds in my neighborhood don’t allow for plastic pots :-)


Fern February 28, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I don’t see why not?! Good luck!

Alex June 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Love the pots u did, but I have a question I spray painted mine today and after hours I saw a scratch so I went and used my nail to see if more would come off and it did :/ what should I use on this so more paint doesn’t come off???


Fern August 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Hi Alex–It sounds like you need to pick a spray paint meant for the type of pot you are painting (i.e. a spray paint meant for plastic, if your pot is plastic).

Michelle October 22, 2012 at 2:54 am

Oh my soul! how thrilled i am to have stumbled on your blog. I love love love the ideas. This weekend I’m painting pots and building a vertical pallet garden!


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