A great-looking garden is about more than the plants you grow. The physical structure beneath your planting also adds a lot to its character. But this doesn't need to mean embarking on extensive landscaping works - your choice of containers can provide plenty of architectural interest as well.
Unfortunately, visit any garden centre and it's clear that the cost of containers will mount up alarmingly if you want anything beyond the usual plastic pots.
The good news is, almost anything can be turned into a container if you use a little imagination. You'll save money, add interest to your garden, and also reduce waste by re-using items otherwise destined for the landfill.
Here are twelve ideas to kick start your container creativity.
1. Retired Wheelbarrow
Even the hardiest wheelbarrow will eventually carry one load of soil too many. But when it's working days are over, it makes a great planter for mixed displays or single larger plants. Remove the wheel, legs, and handles to disguise its origins, or leave them on for added visual impact.
2. Old Footwear
When your trusty gardening boots have trod their last, they can still play their part in your garden's future. Nailed to a wall or fence, smaller boots make an original flower pot for trailing blooms, while larger, free-standing wellies are perfect for deep-rooted veggies like carrots or beetroot.
Wooden furniture may seem an odd choice as an improvised container, but anything with drawers or shelves makes a versatile, multi-storey planter with style. Just be sure to line with planter liner to stave off rot.
4. Vases, Jugs, and Pitchers
Vases might be intended for cut flower arrangements, but there's no reason they can't be a home for living, growing plants too. Also, jugs and pitchers can have a change of role if chips or cracks mean they're no longer good enough for the table.
5. Teapots and Kettles
Old-fashioned metal teapots and kettles make a good permanent home for plants with smaller root systems, such as alpines and low-growing herbs. However, they also look great filled with shorter-lived annual blooms from alyssum to candytuft.
6. Colanders and Sieves
Free-draining colanders and sieves won't suit all plants, but fill them with a gritty compost mix and they're perfect for drought-loving Mediterranean herbs like oregano, rosemary, and lavender. And with their handles already included, they're easily wired up to make distinctive hanging baskets.
7. Reclaimed Natural Wood
From driftwood to fallen branches to dead tree stumps, reclaimed natural wood often has holes and crevices which can be filled with soil. Carefully positioned, these make interesting architectural features, with the plants grown in the crannies helping to blend them into the garden.
8. Old Footballs
A burst ball may have seen the last of its action on the field, but if you slice off the top third and cut holes in the bottom for drainage, it'll make an unusual sports-themed container for the fanatics in the family.
9. Wicker Baskets
From shopping baskets to clothes hampers, wickerwork makes a natural-looking addition to your garden. It may not last forever, but line it well and it'll make a comfortable home for annuals and biennials in the meantime.
10. Bathtubs or Washbasins
A 1950s bathroom suite might not be a great selling point for a home, but after a remodel the old fittings can be re-used in the garden. Bathtubs and washbasins make handy large planters with ready-made drainage holes, and the more ancient and battered they look the better.
11. A Vintage Toilet
To continue on the bathroom theme, an old porcelain throne can find a more genteel use as a centrepiece of a floral display. With or without the cistern, it lends an original appeal that will definitely draw the eye.
12. Worn Tyres
Lastly, stacks of old, threadbare tyres laid directly on the ground make versatile planters. But another, more unusual use is to hang one vertically against a wall, give it a lick of brightly coloured paint, and use the lower part as a shallow trough-style planter.
Of course, if you tried all of these ideas at once, your garden could quickly cross the line from intriguingly original to downright eccentric. But if you're looking for some extra inspiration at next to no cost, a few creative container choices could be the finishing touch you're looking for.