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DIY upcycled planters

Two planters with googly eyes and wings made out of children's hand prints
Two planters with googly eyes and wings made out of children's hand prints

What you need

  • Empty milk/juice cartons or empty tin cans
  • Potting compost
  • Seeds or plants


Growing plants and learning to take care of them is a great experience for children of all ages to enjoy. The excitement of watching them grow and change is a valuable lesson that will foster your child’s love of nature and the outdoors. Making DIY planters also teaches your child about responsibility and taking care of something. 

Making upcycled planters using a household item that would otherwise have been discarded is also a great way to promote a sense of environmentalism. It opens up discussions about repurposing items/recycling and being mindful of waste.

The experience

Gather some items to use for the upcycled planters – juice or milk cartons are ideal, or you could use empty food cans (just watch out for sharp edges if they were opened with a can opener). 

You could plant some flower seeds, herbs or small bedding plants. If you are able, you may like to take your child to a shop or garden centre to pick their plants. 

Set up an area, on the ground or at a table, to prepare your DIY planters. Cartons can be cut out on one side, to provide the perfect planting pot. Tin cans can be painted and decorated to make a lovely feature for the garden, balcony or windowsill. 

As you prepare your planters, talk with your child about how you are reusing this item and giving it a new purpose. Older children can discuss with you why this is a good idea, and how we need to try and re-use things and not throw lots away into rubbish to help protect our environment. Your child may be familiar with seeing the bin collectors come to your house, or visiting a recycling centre to dispose of rubbish, using separate bins for sorting, etc. Draw upon this previous experience to help them make connections. 

Once ready, your child can help you fill the upcycled planters with compost, plant the seeds/plants and water. Use a small watering can or just a small cup filled with water, so even young children can be involved in pouring water over the plants. Discuss with your child why the plants need water? What else might they need to grow? 

Decide on a spot to place your upcycled planters and enjoy watching them flourish!