Upcycled File Cabinet Garden Planters

File cabinet planters UPCYCLE RECYCLE REUSE from TMTOMH Too MUch Time on My Hands 1 copy

We have discussed my teeny tiny yard before. I love every single little thing about our home and neighborhood...except for our yard. We love to garden, get dirty, explore, and be outside as much as possible and our tiny back yard does not support our needs! One huge part of our summer is gardening and I have been fighting with this yard since we moved in six years ago.

File cabinet planters UPCYCLE RECYCLE REUSE from TMTOMH Too MUch Time on My Hands 8 copy

Check out my paint shim garden marker tutorial right here

A few years ago I made "Grow Boxes" and they worked pretty well, but still were not large enough for all we wanted to grow. We want to grow as much of our produce as possible and need to get creative with the minimal space we have. Last summer I had a brilliant idea to buy a file cabinet, remove the drawers, paint it, turn it on it's side and fill it with dirt. It was narrow enough to fit against our house and deep enough to support a lot of plants.

File cabinet planters UPCYCLE RECYCLE REUSE from TMTOMH Too MUch Time on My Hands 4 copy

When one worked out, I immediately ran all over town to my favorite thrift stores. I found a few different types and sizes of file cabinets and lugged them all home. I DID NOT REALIZE that they were all different depths. So when I turned them on their backs they became different heights...UGH. It was not easy to find them so my husband and I rearranged over and over to figure out a configuration that looked good.

File cabinet planters UPCYCLE RECYCLE REUSE from TMTOMH Too MUch Time on My Hands 9 copy

We have six file cabinets lining the side of our home along our patio and this system is working out SO well. I know where the tomatoes will get the most sunlight and heat to thrive. Where my lettuce will get enough shade, and where my herb garden is easily accessible if it is raining when I am trying to cook dinner and need something quick!

File cabinet planters UPCYCLE RECYCLE REUSE from TMTOMH Too MUch Time on My Hands 6 copy

The cucumbers and zucchini are tucked back near the trellis and we tie them as they grow to use as much vertical space as possible. We also learned that climbing bean plants will fry in the Denver sun and close proximity to our house, so we opted for bush beans this year.

File cabinet planters UPCYCLE RECYCLE REUSE from TMTOMH Too MUch Time on My Hands 11 copy

The painting was the worst part of this whole project and I used Rustoleum spray paint to protect the cabinets from the elements. There were a few rusty spots I needed to touch up this year. I kind of liked that industrial look though!

File cabinet planters UPCYCLE RECYCLE REUSE from TMTOMH Too MUch Time on My Hands 7 copy

One other point to remember is that many of the cabinets are open on the bottom. So when you turn them on their sides you need to back the hollow part up to another hollow part. I did not want to deal with cutting metal to fit the open sides! With a little creativity in our arrangement we didn't have to!

File cabinet planters UPCYCLE RECYCLE REUSE from TMTOMH Too MUch Time on My Hands 10 copy copy

I am always looking for small space gardening tips to grow more and healthier food for our family, so please share any creative ideas you use in your gardens.

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Comments

  1. Hi Kim,
    This is such a clever idea! Small scale gardening can be a challenge, but you seem to have come up with a great solution. I can see the file cabinet planters would work lovely for an herb garden for easy access.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Suzanne
    Pieced Pastimes

    • Thank you so much, Suzanne. They have been working great and I couldn’t beat the price compared to buying planters at a garden center.

  2. Such a neat idea!! so clean and modern too.. I have a few file cabinets that I don’t need anymore and tempted to use this as plannters.

  3. They look sleek and it is a great idea for more contemporary yards.

  4. Great idea. Love the contemporary look.

  5. Did you paint the inside too?. I like to grow organic and would be worried that chemicals from the paint would leach into the soil.

    • Nope-no paint on the inside:) I am not sure it’s 100% organic, but the cabinets have no manufactured paint on the inside either so I am hoping I am safe-fingers crossed

  6. Hi. These look fab but what about drainage?

  7. What kind of growing medium did you use?

  8. Being in FL, we love raised gardens so we don’t have to deal with the sandy soil. This gives me the idea to keep compost in one near the others so it is in easy reach. We will plant ours to match the beach theme we have. Thanks for a great way to upcycle! Now I don’t have to build the garden frame, just line them up and paint.

  9. Michelle says:

    Any guess as to how many years these would last before rusting out? Brilliant idea if I could get at least 3 years or more. Thanks for sharing.

  10. What a clever way to recycle!

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