From a Pack Rat’s Journal: That Mountain of Planters

I admit it. I’m a pack rat. It’s very difficult for me to throw anything away. If I believe there is even the slimmest possibility that I will find a use for something years from now, I will keep it.

That brings me to the ever increasing pile of sunbleached plastic planters that had built up in my backyard. Every time I would walk pass the heap, I would think, I better keep them, just in case.

One day after passing by the graveyard of planters, I made my way to the shed. I spotted dozens of half empty spray paint cans that lined the shelves. A thought occurred to me. Before I knew it, I has several completely unique planters, ready for soil and flowers

Do you have a mountain of planters like mine? It’s okay, you can admit it. Do you want to put those old things to use, turning them from eyesores to eye catchers?

Here’s how:

• First pick the best of the plastic pots. Nice sturdy ones work the best. Not the temporary containers that flowers and plants come in. Even I throw those away, eventually.

• Then clean off any loose debris and oxidation of the plastic. Use steel wool, a wire brush or sandpaper. Wipe with a towel to get the left over dust off the container.

• Lay down a ground cloth (newspapers will do in a pinch). Weigh down the sides of the paper with rocks or wood to keep the wind from blowing the edges up. If the wind is too strong, put it off for another day. The paint will be hard to control, and most of it won’t make it to the planter. It is also helpful to put a couple small strips of wood under the planter to make sure that the bottom edge gets painted all the way down, and to keep the pot from sticking to the wet paint on the paper.

• Now you are ready. Start with one of the lighter paints, and lay down a base coat. Don’t worry about complete coverage. You will be putting down other colors to fill in the missing spots. Also it might be a nice effect to let some of the original color show through.

• Randomly spray a darker color with a fine mist, leaving large areas untouched. This layering gives the color added depth.

• Finish up with black, but use it sparingly. There should just be hints of it here and there. If you notice any area that got too much of any color, just go over it with the color you want it to be.

• There is no need to wait for one color to dry before starting with another. The coats should be so thin that they will dry almost immediately. If you are getting any drip, you are applying too much paint.

• Shades of brown  and a grey work well together. The look you get should be similar to stone if everything goes well. A red-brown and black give a nice terra-cotta effect. Try copper and touches of green for a patina.

• Experiment. Do your own thing. If you are more daring, go crazy with whatever colors you prefer. I mean what are you risking? A planter you weren’t using anyway.

• Make sure you paint a couple inches down on the inside of the container to just below where the soil level is going to be.

• You want to take it to another level. Put some faux crack lines on your pot with a black felt pen. If you wish to go a little further, cut a couple uneven notches at the top of the planter, and extend some fake cracks down from there with the felt pen.

• Make sure there is a drain hole in the bottom of the planter when kept outside.

• For large tall planters, some broken up styrofoam can take the place of rocks in the bottom for drainage, while making the planters much lighter if it needs to be moved.

• This painting technique can even be used on new planters to give them a richer, more realistic stone look.

• Depending on the weather conditions in your area, and the type of paint you use, the painting may need to be retouched or redone after a year or two due to color fading or paint flaking.

Good luck and happy planting!

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3 Responses to From a Pack Rat’s Journal: That Mountain of Planters

  1. Renee Jaspers-Johnson says:

    I recognize that planter. The cracks you added looked fabulous and very authentic. Good photos Rick.


  2. Pingback: Dryer Drum gets New Life in the Garden | btweenblinks

  3. Pingback: Recycled Planters | btweenblinks

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