Oklahoma Proven – Create a Cool Landscape With Container Planters!

Oklahoma Proven – Create a Cool Landscape With Container Planters!

This week on Reinventing Paradise, aka Ward Design Blog, we will move past the theoretical design spiel and into how to territory with a tutorial on making coffee can planters to help you achieve your landscape picture! For more Oklahoma Proven plants click here.


So, let’s get started! First, let’s talk about cans, what works best, and where you might find them!


Choosing the Right Cans


The first key to selecting the right can for your planters is size! While design plays a role here, the plants themselves will set the minimum size required. Once you have the right sized can, you can design your landscape picture

  • Measure a specimen of the plant you want. The spread or width should be just a little smaller than the can if the plant is grown in a large planter where it can spread as it wants.
  • Next, measure the height, most plants will send roots at least as deep as they are high. If you choose your can twice the height of your plant, it will give it plenty of room to grow.

Next, material matters. We like metal cans, here’s why.

  • Plastic cans do not hold paint well, it tends to flake off.
  • Other cans typically have cardboard sides, which fails quickly when filled with damp earth.
  • Metal cans hold up to having holes bored better than the others.


Finding the Cans


Finding metal cans can be difficult in this day and age. Most major brands have moved toward plastic and paper recyclable containers. Vintage cans are great if you can find them. Here are some ideas.

  • Off-brand grocery stores tend to sell generic and smaller brand products and may have coffee in metal cans, the downside is that even cheap coffee isn’t cheap if you need a half dozen.
  • Thrift stores often have old cans for sale and you can make great deals!Garage sales, flea markets, and swap meets are also good sources for used and vintage cans.
  • Select either all the same size or groups of sizes, depending on how you intend to lay them out on your wall


Preparing the Cans


Most cans will need some prep work, although if you are lucky enough to find some cool vintage cans, it may not take much, since the labels may make interesting planters left alone.

  • Use a stiff wire brush to remove loose dirt and minor rust. If rust is below the surface, you might want to choose another can for a long-lasting planter.
  • Rinse your cans and allow them to dry.
  • Apply a coat of your favorite color of spray paint, using the label instructions as your guide and let them dry completely.
  • Apply a coat of clear acrylic over the paint finish on vintage cans if you don’t want to hide the design, to help slow rust.


Installing the Cans


First, select your wall and decide exactly where you want the cans. Brick and masonry walls are best since both vinyl and wood will suffer from the moisture that can get trapped behind the can.

  • Use a masonry rotary bit in a drill to drill a 3/16 inch hole where you want the center of each can, about an inch below where you want the top of the can. Make the hole at a slight downward angle.
  • Drill a ¼ inch hole in each can, about 1 inch down from the lip, centered in the back of the can.
  • Fit a rubber washer on a 1 5/8 inch by ¼ tapcon style anchor for each can and fit the screw through the can.
  • Hold each can in place and drive the screw through the can until it is snug.


Adding Plants


Wait until your cans are mounted to add your potting mix. This can be a blend of topsoil and potting mixture, look up your plants with your local extension service to find out what’s best.

  • Fill each can with soil and add seeds or plants.
  • Drill two small holes in the bottom of the can, along the outside edge to drain the water, so that it drips down away from the wall to minimize streaking.
  • Water your plants!
  • Take a photo and send it to us!


If you build this project, please let us know. If there are other things you would like to do but don’t know where to start, let us know, we will work them in!