DIY: Paint Can Planters

By Kate Riley May 19, 2009

I came up with a great idea for a garden planter the other day as I was browsing the paint aisle of all places.  I spied a stack of plain paint cans and thought, those would make amazing planters so I brought a few home and with a little painter’s tape and spray paint created these:

I had a bare patch of fence in my rear yard that was in need of attention.  I really didn’t feel like painting it again, which is what it needed (ha!), so I thought I’d distract everyone with some whimsical decor.  And this was such an easy and inexpensive way to do it.

How To Make a Paint Can Planter:


  1. Paint cans, recycled or new.  Plain metal paint cans are available at most home improvement stores.
  2. Outdoor spray paint
  3. Painter’s tape and/or stickers for lettering
  4. Hammer and nail
  5. Hooks for fence (if you will be hanging your planters)

Step One:  If your cans are recycled, clean off the labels and scrape off any drips from the sides.  Spray paint your cans with your first color of spray paint.  Allow to dry thoroughly, usually at least 5 to 6 hours.

Spray paint your hooks and screws to complement.

Step Two:  Apply painter’s tape in your design of choice.  In my case, I wanted striped cans so I used the painter’s tape to allow for green stripes underneath.  Apply your second color of spray paint and allow to dry thoroughly.  When dry, gently remove your painter’s tape.

Step Three (optional):  Add your word of choice with simple stickers.  In my case, I spelled out the word “BLOOM” for my third paint can.   I also applied more painter’s tape to my striped cans so I would end up with a third white stripe, and then spray painted them with a third shade of white.  When dry, gently remove your painter’s tape and/or stickers.


Step Four:  Use your hammer and a nail to puncture drainage holes in the bottom of your paint can.  Use a soft cloth or towel underneath your can so you don’t cause any damage to your paint.

Step Five:  Add gravel to the bottom of your planter, then some potting soil and your favorite blooms. In my case, I chose Iceland poppies for their color, and I know they will tolerate heat and full sun.  Using outdoor spray paint will allow your cans to withstand the seasons, and the sun’s rays.

These painted cans will brighten any fence, deck or balcony.  They would also make an extra special housewarming gift – imagine them with a monogram, or the homeowner’s new street address !







  1. Awesome idea. And those flowers are gorgeous. Just wanted to pop in and say hey. I found your site last night and have literally spent the last hour on here reading tons of old posts. (And another hour last night!) You really have a tremendously creative eye, and your writing is excellent as well (thank heavens) which is a breath of fresh air on a site not dedicated to writing for writing’s sake. The verdict… you’ve given me hope and inspiration. Thank you, thank you…. :)

  2. Stunning. A fabulous idea. We have a lot of plain bare fence (we rent our house and spend enough money on the garden. But that is such a simple and cheap way to spruce it up – I love it.

  3. Wow. I’m continually amazed at your creativity. I love this idea. Now, if only I would get around to painting my foyer and upstairs hallway, I would have some leftover paint cans…

  4. What a great idea! I’ve been looking for inexpensive ways to decorate our deck and this will work perfectly! Thanks.

  5. I love this idea! It’s very sweet!
    {and believe me, I’ve got a FEW paint
    cans in this house}
    Have a fantastic day!

  6. What a great idea! I am going to make some of these this weekend and dress up my fence. (My neighbors will be jealous!!)

  7. Seriously, you never run out of fab ideas!! And how do you find time to do it all?? I am amazed, yet again. :)

  8. What a CUTE and CLEVER idea! I am seriously gonna have to try this! LOVE it!

  9. These are really cute. I’ve got a few nearly empty traditional paint cans around that I’ll have to try this on. I’ve been eyeballing random things I have lately to make them into planters, and this is a great (and easy and quick!) idea. Too bad it won’t work for all the paint cans I have… Dutch Boy plastic pails with a handle just won’t fly. :)

    Keep up the great and VERY inspirational blog!

  10. This is so going in my inspiration file! Thanks for sharing!

  11. What a cute idea. Most crafts stores sell empty paint cans too. Using their coupons to get 40-50% off!

  12. So creative! I’m going to be looking for some empty paint cans and somewhere to put them….

  13. Wow! These are so fun and pretty! What a fantastic idea! I’ve got about five of these sitting in my garage and another painting project I’m starting, and I’ve been waiting to get rid of them. Instead, I’m going to do this! Thank you!

    Fantastic blog, BTW!

  14. We did something almost identical last month. Great minds think alike.

    We used old large cans from my Aunt’s DQ and they are perfect.

  15. These are beyond cute! Tomorrow DH and I are beginning a 2 week stay-at-home vacation, with lots of plans for gardening. These will definitely be on my to-do list. (I see them lining the steps to our front door.) Thanks for a lovely idea!

  16. These really are cute–I love paint cans for anything!! (I received a decoupaged one with hand-painted baby blocks in it as a baby gift!) Your project is a great summer project for the kids!!! Will put this one on my list, although I think I’ll have to plant succulents, because I’d kill those flowers for sure.

  17. This is a FABULOUS idea! I love it! I’ll definitely be trying this idea this summer :)

  18. I popped over from ASPTL…
    Love this idea..I have a bunch of old paint cans that I could use! Fabulously frugal :)

  19. Also visiting form ASPTL..

    So charming. A really great idea I look forward to using in my own yard!

  20. Love the idea and love your blog…Do you sell these?

    I have enjoyed reading your blog.
    I am new to the blog world, but have seen the miracle of the blogging community and prayer in the last two days. Hope you will stop by my blog and pray for little Maggie.

  21. I just came across your blog and I love it! You have awesome ideas! I really like this idea, I might have to try it.

  22. Really cute! Such a good way to use what you’ve got lying around. I linked to it on my blog

  23. YES! I just so happen to have some empty paint cans laying around! I'm so trying this out! Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  24. This would also be cute in the garage… okay I'm sure my hubby wouldn't think so (but I do). Could do the lettering to say nails, screws, hammers, paint brushes,tape etc for all that stuff that sits around… and then inside the paint cans you just put all your boxes of whatevers that clutter around.

    Another cool idea… have them hang in the laundry room with names for your kids. What they can fit in the paint bucket is all they bring with them in the car… hence, no more mountain of kid stuff in the car!!!

  25. I love these delightful homemade can planters; they wonderfully beautify a garden! I recycle soup cans and transform them into beautiful decoupage decor that are very functional. They can be used as candle votives, pen and pencil holders, or they make a great gift for storing candy, cookies, and trinkets. I have created an etsy shop called “Eco-Friendly Freckles” for which I sell these lovely, affordable works of art. Please check out my blog for more information. More power to you Centsational Girl…recycling can be a beautiful thing!

  26. Very cute idea but I’m curious… So the sparypaint on the outside protects it from the weather but you still ahve to water the plants. How fast will they rust on the inside being in contact with wet soil most of te time?

  27. Remind me not to leave comments when I’m half asleep.. I apparently can’t type when I’m tired. O_o

  28. i am new to blogland, and i probably spend way too much time looking at different projects, but i must may your blog ROCKS! so many neat ideas, and i love that most of your projects are thrift store finds or fairly inexpensive! thank-you so much for sharing your ideas and inspiring so many of us to make our house into a home! have a beautiful day!!!!!!!

  29. You are one of the first blogs that I found and now you are in my first thing to look every morning. I LOVE all your DIY projects. I am inspired to try spray paint something this summer, maybe my whole furniture :) Your tutorials are so good to follow and understand. I truly appreciate all the detail in your sharing and for taking me into your house throght the wonderful connection of internet. And I am definetely doing this project this summer, I have so many wonderful flowers that I love and would love to hang them on my back yard. LOVE IT!!!

  30. Adorable! And beautifully coordinated. I’ll give these a shot – I will likely put pots inside to see if they can last longer, and since the paint residue in my cans won’t help my flowers.

    I bet none of these need to be purchased new, since we MUST all know someone who has these in their garage, for free. A bit of sanding to do maybe, but if you get help with the hard work it’s even more fun! ;)

  31. Hey,

    I know that you are having picture problems in some other posts but this one is having issues too as well as some other gardening ones! Makes me sad because they all look like great ideas.

    • Hi Julie, yes all the posts from before Sept 2009 are having problems, working on it this weekend!

  32. I am so happy to read I wasn’t The only one not able to see the pictures. I got the jist from reading, but hope to see the pictures soon. When you say old paint cans, mine always have paint dried in them, are you talking about cans you have just finished with , that have easily removable washable paint? i can’t imagine old dried on paint being an easy job. Am i wrong?

    • Hi Bernice, this post is one of about 20 I still need to repair, I will do so shortly, and I think you might be right, it’s touch to get out old paint from a can but I used the plain tin ones you can find for a few dollars at the local home improvement store.

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