Growing your own food and medicine doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor! In fact, you can upcycle a ton of materials into effective containers for vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
In this article, we’re going to teach you how to make two different types of burlap planters: one that rests on the ground and one hanging option. These planters are ideal for using scrap burlap fabric and can last for at least a full growing season, if not more.
What You’ll Need
- Several yards of burlap fabric
- Heavy-duty steel sewing needle, like a darning or tapestry needle
- Large safety pins
- Sturdy polyester or nylon thread: choose one that’s ideal for outdoor use or upholstery, as it’ll be more durable than standard fashion applications
- Metal clothes hangers (for the hanging planter)
- Wire cutters
- Fabric scissors
- Measuring tape
Chances are you already have these items at home, so there’s no need to go out and buy anything. Similarly, you can often score free burlap from farmers, supermarkets, garden centers, and construction companies.
They often simply throw out burlap after using it to transport items, so take full advantage when you can!
Alternatively, if none of these options are available to you, burlap is easy to find at most fabric and craft stores. As an added bonus, it only costs about $5 per yard, so it’s a super-affordable material to work with.
Square Standing Burlap Planters
You can make these planters any size, so they can accommodate something as small as an herb or something as large as pumpkins — whatever you prefer.
If you plant large species inside them, however, you may want to double up on the fabric. This will create sturdier planters better suited to supporting your plants.
Measure out two (or four) burlap rectangles of equal length. Ideally, each of these will be three equal squares in length.
Next, place one of these rectangles over the other to create a cross shape. Put a stitch into the center to keep them in place as you work.
Then, fold the sides up and use the safety pins to hold them together. Thread your needle with a double length of thread and tie a knot at one end. Sew two sides together with a back stitch, then double back and secure it with a blanket stitch.
Repeat this process until the sides are all sewn together. Then, sew around the bottom to ensure that all seams are tightly closed.
At this point, you can either use the planter as is, or turn it inside out. Leaving it as it is looks more rustic, while turning it inside out so you can’t see the seams is much more elegant.
Hanging Burlap Planters
To make this planter, you’ll simply create a smaller version of the standing planter above.
Repeat the same process as above, and set your smaller basket aside once it’s all sewn up.
Next, use your wire cutters to snip off the hook part of a wire clothes hanger. Use pliers and brute strength to stretch that hanger into as close to a hoop as possible. Then, bend the twisted neck part against one of the sides so it lies flat.
You’re going to place this hoop around your little planter and fold down the edge over it. Pin this into place with your safety pins, and then sew all around it with a backstitch to secure everything in place.
Once that’s done, use scissors to snip downwards through the burlap in four equidistant spots around the sewn edge.
Then, use those same magical scissors to cut 12 long burlap strips of equal length. Group these into three bunches, and tie knots at the bottom of each bundle to secure them.
Pass one or two of the strips beneath the exposed wire and then join it up with the others above. Braid these strips into a long plait and tie them off when done.
Once you’ve repeated this with all four sides, gather the ends together and tie them together with a length of twine. You can either make a hanging loop with the twine so you can secure this from an overhead hook, or simply hang it as is.
Filling the Planters
For both the standing and hanging planters, you’ll need to create a drainage layer at the bottom. We generally use a mixture of sticks and stones for drainage in the standing planters and straw in the hanging ones because it won’t add much extra weight.
Remember that with planters and pots, you need to specifically use potting soil that’s well-aerated and drains well. If you don’t, it gets compacted and won’t allow roots to spread out properly, nor absorb nutrients well.
If you can’t get your hands on potting soil, then aim to work materials like perlite or lava rock, vermiculite, peat moss, coconut coir, and well-aged compost into standard garden soil.
Additionally, large burlap planters are ideal for straw bale gardening: they’ll hold the straw in place so your root vegetables and brassicas can grow tall, strong, and secure.
In fact, you can even use straw as your growing medium in your smaller planters — just choose the species that thrive best in straw, and you’re good to go.
Double Duty as Storage Sacks
These burlap planters also make excellent storage baskets for your pantry or cold cellar! If you have extra burlap left over from making planters, sew up a few extras to hold root vegetables, squashes, apples, and more.
You can also create hanging baskets to store winter clothes during the summer or to keep various tools off the ground and within easy reach while you’re working.
As you can see, these burlap garden planters come together quickly and can be used all over your garden or homestead.
They’re fun and easy to make and are great rainy-day or weekend projects to do with kids. Although they don’t last more than a season or two, they do their job well and can be composted when you’re done with them.