Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Perking Up Your Plant Pots

About a month ago, on a very grey day, a little corner of our garden looked like this:

Some very dead plants (I think they were dahlias in a past life) and some sorry looking pots. My mum, who knows about gardening, helped me triage the plants - some were rescued but most were beyond hope. I decided to spruce up this corner with some elbow grease, a can or two of spray paint and a few new plants.

The result: Colour! Greenery! And, by some miracle, a little bit of sunshine.

I use a lot of pots and containers in our garden. I like how portable and versatile they are. Our outside space is small and as we live on a hill we have steps up to all our doors. I like to put pots on the decking in the back garden and on the wall by the front door and move them around depending on the time of year and what is in flower. I thought I would share this with you so here is a tutorial of sorts, should you wish to do something similar.

You will need:

1. Old garden pots.
2. A large bowl filled with hot soapy water.
3. Rubber gloves.
4. An old sponge.
5. Masking tape.
6. Cans of spray paint.

First, some words on using aerosol paint: Follow the instructions on the can and use in a very well ventilated area. It's nasty stuff. Also, be patient. Many thin layers of paint work much better than two or three heavy ones, as I found out to my cost. I allowed about half an hour between coats so this was something I set up in the back garden on a dry day and came back to in between other things.

1. Empty your pots of as much earth and grit as possible, brushing them out as best you can.
2. Give them a good scrub with the old sponge and the soapy water.
3. Leave to air dry.

4. With the tape mask off the part you don't want sprayed.  You could use all tape, or tape and paper as I did, depending on the size of area you are working with. Spray inside the top quarter or so of the inside of your pot - the rest will be hidden by earth.

5. When it's dry, gently peel off the tape. Mine was a bit wonky on the corners but I'm not too precious about something that's going to sit in the garden in all weathers full of soil.

There is lots of fun to be had playing with different paint colours and shapes of pots, experimenting with a dip-dyed effect, or full-on paint.

Then fill with lovely plants and admire.

I can't promise this little project will bring sunshine to your garden though. Sorry about that.

Thank you for all your kind comments about Mr Snake, you are very kind. I feel as though I've hardly had a minute to pop round to your blogs and say hello this week - I will try to have a catch up tomorrow. Life is busy at the moment. We are all very glad it's half term next week. We need a little break. 


  1. Your pots are brilliant - I might have to try that!
    Sara x
    PS My photos are back - my fault I changed some privacy settings, and didn't realise it would impact the blog!

  2. How cheery and cheering. I love the fact that you triage your plants
    Best wishes

  3. I love the painted pots! Such a brilliant idea to perk up old pots and your garden! The second photo is so lovely with the sunshine and you have such a nice mix of plants and pots! I love to cluster pots together like you have done on my patio. What is the name of the tall, purple flower in the small, blue and white pot? It's so pretty and cheerful!

    Enjoy your week and your upcoming half term break! I always love popping by your blog...such a happy place!

    1. Hi Julia. I wish I could tell you! I threw away the little tag that came with the flower and can't find it anywhere. I do remember that is was an "alpine" flower and I thought that I should probably move it from the pot to a rockery at some point, but other than that I don't know. Sorry! x

  4. This is SOOOO beautiful! And so simple too. If I had a garden corner I would have tried this.

  5. I love the versitility of the pot, because I am always changing my mind about where things should go. It makes me happy to swap them around depending on my mood.

    I love how cheerful it all looks. I'd love to do something similar on the decking where the boys play. Alas there is a huge, horrid trampoline. I am waiting for it to collapse. It will be a happy day for me when it does!

    Leanne xx

  6. These are great tips, thank you for sharing! I love the colors you used, especially the pink. It's a surprising color for the garden and looks very fresh. I hope you all get to relax on your break.

  7. What a wonderful transformation! I love upcycling, and I've been pottering in the garden today too, but forgot to take before photos ... Grr!

    Love the colours and your little corner looks very bright and cheery now

    Love Claire xx

  8. They look lovely and cheery :). It's my pots that don't last the winter rather than the plants, they usually shatter in the frost, even the supposedly frost proof ones!

  9. These are great. We have many containers / pots too and move them around as you do. Love the colour combinations you've used too!
    PS - Blogger seems to have finally got its finger out and my problem with posts not updating seems to have been resolved. Thanks for your support over the past three months.

  10. Your new pots look great Gillian ... isn't spray paint brilliant ... I especially love the blue ones ... and sunshine ... you must bottle it :) ... Bee xx

  11. I love your pretty corner and the pot all looks wonderful.
    Great to see it in the sunshine.
    Jacquie x

  12. Wow what a difference. Looks lovely brilliant make over x

  13. Now that is certainly lovely and "springy". Well done you. Maybe I'll find time to do some old ones of mine or even perk up a couple of plastic ones.
    Thanks Gillian.

  14. I love this idea. I too use a lot of pots outdoors. I may just have to give this a try.

  15. Lovely project! I need to do same with my flower pots..and also had to remove few dead plants recently. and now not knowing what to with the pots. at least I can paint them and make our back yard look more colorful!

  16. Great idea! That's a very happy looking garden you have there! x

  17. Hello Gillian, you've worked hard. The result is great! I've never used spray paint, but I think I'll try. Thanks for the tutorial. :D

  18. I think these are just marvellous! I so wanted to get my pots sorted today but its freezing here with heavy showers there's some brilliant weeds growing in them though, so at least they're not empty! :) x

  19. Great Gillian! I love this part of the work! Spring time, It's hot, you, with your oldest t-shirt, painting, the smell of paint. I do the same.

  20. Your plant pots look really great! And thanks for your little tutorial.
    M x

  21. Thanks for the tutorial...I'm going to copy!!!

  22. The flowers are lovely, but I love the extra zip the painted pots give. Great project - upcycling at its finest!!

  23. The pots are bright and cheery now! Good job and good idea.

  24. The pots look great even without the flowers- what a good idea1 Thanks for sharing.

  25. Hi Gillian, so glad to see you are happily playing with plants & design - yay & me too!! It's a glorious time of year.... but I know what you mean, it's been super busy here as well.... I wish there were 2 months of May ;-)

  26. how lovely - it makes such a difference :-)

  27. Lovely, they all look fantastic. I've been wrestling with pots of dead things at the moment, as well as lots of pots that have been cracked by flying footballs. Sigh. But in a month or so it should all look lovely, once the sun shines on the little green leaves.

  28. They look wonderful, and I can think of so many possibilities ... you could make paper stencils next, of leaves perhaps, and pattern them!

  29. Fab pots. I love your colour choices. It looks like they belong by the most gorgeous beach house!! Thanks for the tute!! Xo

  30. Pretty pretty Gillian, such a fabulous way to make dreary pots cheery :o) Enjoy! I might just try this over the bank holiday weekend, my pots are looking a wee bit like yours did before you up-cycled them! xxx Have a lovely half term with your kiddies x

  31. Hi Gillian...
    Came here from Jennifer at Thistlebear...
    Such a lovely blog you have...we have a few things in common..
    Our love for gardening, cooking and good old crochet!!
    I also LOVE to spray paint things!!!

    Linda :o)

  32. What a lovely idea! The corner looks lovely. I particularly like the blue and terracotta together. Might have a go at this as my garden is a pot garden (and I've done nothing with them this year at all!). Just need some sunshine to do it in. x

  33. Gosh yes, so glad it's half term next week - need more than a 'little break', but that will have to do! These pots are just lovely -so inspiring - thank you for the ideas, and the wonderful, clear photos... guess what I'll be doing next week!
    Emma. x.

  34. That is a great idea to rescue my pots....long winter and a lot of snow make them look old and ready for the garbage ....great choice. I love you blog, my visit was a little long as I enjoy you notes and pictures.

  35. I need to rescue my pots too...mine are looking rather sad at the moment.

  36. that is such a great make-over! feels kind of beachy! you'll have to get the deckchairs and the bunting out next. I must clean my pots! great post, Heather x

  37. Fab Gillian! just fab. The pick and white remind me of summer icecreams x

  38. love these, what a lovely transformation! x

  39. What a difference some colour makes Gillian, I love this idea, can already see them on my new deck! mel x

  40. Those look so nice! All my pots right now have nothing but dirt and dead flowers in them. I need to fix that because they are such mood lifters when full of happy flowers.

  41. Hi Gillian, just spent a wonderful day in the garden with my daughter and a friend painting pots and garden ornaments which had seen better days. Ours aren't as pristine as yours but they sure are colourful :-).

    Better still the friend is celebrating his 50th brithday today and was expecting to spend it all alone following a chaotic year, Having seen your blog I rushed to B&Q for supplies and this morning we delivered him an invite to our "Pot Painting Party". I'm sure he only came to find out what one of those was lol.

    It's been precious to watch him merrily creating colourful projects for hours :-).

    We had a caterpillar birthday cake to fit in with the theme and only just managed to avoid spraying it - everything else in the garden seems to have had several coats at least!!!

    Thanks for a perfectly cheerful idea, I can't wait for them to dry so we can pot them up :-).

    Karen x

  42. These look brilliant. I do love a bit of spray paint....!


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