Grow A Recycled Garden With Kids: Recycled Planters For Kids To Make

A red haired boy standing outside a house smiles and holds a blue plastic bottle with pansies growing in it
(Image credit: Daisy-Daisy)

Growing a children's recycled garden is a fun and environmentally friendly family project. Not only can you introduce the philosophy of "reduce, reuse, and recycle" but repurposing trash into recycled planters for kids to decorate can also spark your child's love of gardening. In short, it helps them develop ownership of the food and flowers your family grows.

Tips for Making a Recycled Garden with Kids

Recycling in the garden with kids is all about finding ways to reuse ordinary household materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill. From milk cartons to yogurt cups, kids and recycled containers naturally go hand-in-hand.

Creating a children's recycled garden helps your kids see how the disposable items they use every day can have a second life. Here are a few of the many items which can be made into recycled planters for kids to decorate and use:

  • Toilet paper tubes – Make a biodegradable pot for seedlings by cutting 1-inch (2.5 cm.) slots in one end of a toilet paper tube. Fold this end under to make the bottom of the pot. No need to remove the seedling at transplanting time, simply plant the tube and all.
  • Plastic food containers and bottles – From fruit cups to milk jugs, plastic containers make wonderful reusable planters for seedlings. Have an adult make several drainage holes in the bottom before using.
  • Milk and juice cartons – Unlike toilet paper tubes, beverage cartons have thin layers of plastic and aluminum to prevent leakage and should not be planted directly in the ground. With a few drainage holes poked in the bottom, these cartons can be decorated and used for starting houseplants and garden seedlings. 
  • Paper cups – From fast-food beverage containers to those disposable bathroom cups, reusing paper cups as one-time seedling pots is doable. Whether or not they should go in the ground will depend if the coating is wax or plastic.
  • Paper pots – Craft paper pots by rolling a few sheets of newspaper or scrap paper around the sides of a tin can. Then fold the paper around the bottom of the can and secure it with tape, if necessary. Slip the tin can out and reuse it to mold the next paper pot.

More Ideas for a Children's Recycled Garden

Gardeners often think of disposable items when recycling in the garden with kids, but many everyday items which children have outgrown or worn out can find a second life among the veggies and flowers as well:

  • Boots – Use a drill to make holes in the soles for whimsical boot flower or veggie planters.
  • Socks – Cut old socks into strips and use them for tomato ties.
  • Shirts and pants – Stuff outgrown clothes with plastic grocery bags to make child-sized scarecrows.
  • Compact discs – Hang old CDs around the garden to scare birds from ripe fruits and veggies.
  • Toys – From trucks to cradles, repurpose those broken or unused toys into interesting patio planters.
Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.