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Transform Your Broken Pots into Magical Miniature Gardens

Michelle Hopkins
March 26, 2015

It’s spring and, like many, you are ready to head into the shed to grab your gardening gloves, a bag or two of soil, plants, bulbs and dust off those terracotta pots. What to do if some of those clay pots got cracked or broken into pieces while they lay there all winter long? Before you decide to throw them into your recycle bin, consider repurposing them into beautiful, show-stopping, unique planters. 

This new trend is really catching on. And why not? Over the years, those born with a green thumb and plenty of great imagination have cleverly shown us that objects in our homes, and even our closets, can make charming alternatives for regular pots – gum boots, tea pots and children's wagons, to name a few.  

For those on a limited gardening budget, it’s not always possible to buy new plant containers or garden art but the beauty of using shards from cracked or broken pots is you can still achieve a great look by turning old into new. This is a great DYI project for the whole family.

You don’t need special skills – just a little inspiration! went to Jennifer Chu, owner/gardener of Green with Envy – Floral + Textile Designs, for her ideas and inspiration on how to transform your broken pots into a mini succulent works of art.

"Instead of throwing those pots away, they are a resourceful way to recycle and add interest, depth and texture to your gardens or patios/decks," says Chu. "Part of the fun is putting them together, much like a puzzle, to create a mosaic effect. Some people even add in bird houses, gnomes or fairies. There’s no limit to what you can do."

First Things First: Supplies

  • If you only have smaller terracotta pots, purchase a larger one (Chu recommends one that is at least 10-inch in diameter and 10 to 20 inches in height).
  • You’ll need a hammer. “I also recommend having a towel to wrap the pot in and eye protection if you are going to break the pots yourself,” adds Chu.  
  • You need approximately two to three containers of shards.
  • Buy a saucer in proportion to the pot, because it makes it easier should you need to move your garden pot creation
  • Potting soil, grasses, succulents, trailing plants. Make sure to choose plants that live well together. In other words, go for plants that require the same amount of maintenance – food, water and sunshine.
  • Glue, to bond the shards together. Gorilla glue or a glue gun work really well. “If the pieces are fitting together properly, it might not be necessary to have glue,” she adds.

Let's Get DYI-ing!

  1. Start off with your larger pot and place about four inches of soil at the base
  2. This is the fun part when you start experimenting with the broken pieces to mimic a retaining wall.
  3. Keep playing with various pieces … this is when you call on your imagination or get inspired by the images in the gallery above, or on Pinterest!
  4. Now you start layering. Start filling in the first level – whether from the top on the bottom – with more soil, shards and plants and keep layering. “I used three to four plants for each of my three levels,” adds Chu. “Remember to use plants that would fit into a three- to four-inch pot. If the plants are too big, it won’t look good.”
  5. However, for the last layer, choose taller plants, such as grasses, to give your planter extra height. Layering the broken pieces inside of the planter provides that open peek into the secret garden lying inside.
  6. Keep packing in the soil, as it can act as your glue.
  7. Lastly, decorate it by adding touches that you collect on walks to the beach or in the forest – branches, driftwood, seashells or pebbles. “You can also add fairy lights around it,” she says, adding this is a really fun project for kids too. You can even create a themed garden like the fairy garden pictured in the gallery above.  

In the end, like your home, your secret garden should reflect your personality and what you like to grow! What better way than to use repurposed planters to highlight your taste for the unusual, beautiful, antique, colourful or even quirky?

“In addition, add some decorations during the holidays – Halloween, Christmas or Easter – to add another story behind your garden,” Chu says. “You are only limited by your own imagination and creativity.”

Michelle Hopkins
Michelle Hopkins is a Vancouver-based freelance writer with extensive magazine, newspaper and online writing experience in home décor, new home developments, culinary adventures, wine, travel and more. Michelle writes for many notable publications including Real Estate Weekly and other Glacier Media Group publications, Western Living Magazine, Vancouver Magazine, Home Décor & Renovations, to name just a few. Michelle is passionate about anything to do with real estate.