Garden Bottle Upcycling Ideas – How To Reuse Old Bottles In Gardens

Plastic Water Bottle Used As A Planter
bottle planter
(Image credit: Pimonpim Tangosol)

Most people, but not all, are recycling their glass and plastic bottles. Recycling isn’t offered in every town, and even when it is, there is often a limit on the types of plastic that are accepted. That’s where garden bottle upcycling comes into play. With the resurgence of DIY projects, there are plenty of ideas for gardening with old bottles. Some people are using bottles in gardening in a utilitarian manner while others use bottles in the garden to add a bit of whimsy.

How to Reuse Old Bottles in Gardens

Our old neighbors along the beach had a glorious cobalt blue glass “tree” made from the kind of fancy bottled water that we shunned for tap. Artistic it certainly was, but there are plenty of other ways to use not only glass but plastic bottles in the garden. We like to use plastic bottles to water our outdoor container plants when we are out of town. This isn’t a new idea but an ancient one that uses modern materials. The original self-waterer was called an olla, an unglazed pottery jar used by Native Americans. The idea with a plastic bottle is to cut the bottom out and then up-end it. Push or dig the cap end (cap off!) into the soil and fill the bottle with water. If the bottle is leaching water too quickly, replace the cap and drill a few holes into it to allow the water to seep more slowly. The bottle can also be used in this manner with the cap side up and out of the soil. To make this bottle irrigator, just drill random holes all around and up and down the bottle. Bury the bottle up to the cap. Fill with water and recap.

Other Garden Bottle Upcycling Ideas

Another easy idea for using plastic bottles in gardening is to use them as a cloche. Cut the bottom off and then just gently cover the seedlings with the remainder. When you cut the bottom off, cut it so the bottom is usable too. Leave enough room to use it as a small pot. Just punch holes in it, fill with soil and start seeds. Turn plastic soda bottles into hummingbird feeders. Cut a hole at the bottom end of the bottle that goes all the way through the bottle. Insert a sturdy used plastic straw. Drill a small hole through the lid and thread a line or bent hangar through it. Fill the bottle with a homemade nectar of 4 parts boiling water to 1-part granulated sugar. Cool the mixture and then fill the feeder and screw the lid on. Plastic bottles can be used to make slug traps. Cut the bottle in half. Insert the cap inside the bottle so it faces the bottom of the bottle. Fill with a little beer and you have a trap that the slimy creatures can enter but not exit. Use plastic or wine bottles to make a vertical hanging planter. On the subject of wine bottles, for the oenophile (connoisseur of wines), there are many ways of gardening with old wine bottles. Use similar or dissimilar colored bottles buried halfway in the ground to create a unique glass garden border or edging. Make a raised garden bed from wine bottles. Make a terrarium from an empty wine bottle or a bird feeder or glass hummingbird feeder. Make tiki torches to enjoy future bottles of wine by accompanied by the sounds of a cooling wine bottle fountain. And then, of course, there is always the wine bottle tree which can be used as garden art or as a privacy barrier; any color glass will do – it doesn’t have to be cobalt blue. There are so many awesome DIY ideas, you probably won’t need a recycling bin anymore, just a drill, glue gun and your imagination.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.