Who wouldn’t want to own a big house with a huge garden, where you can grow flowers, plant herbs and spend relaxing afternoons outdoors? While it’s a beautiful image, life often forces us to settle for a flat in the city with – if we’re lucky – a small balcony far away from nature. And although you likely won’t grow a real vegetable garden on your balcony in the city, that doesn’t mean your green fingers must stay idle. In fact, a small herb garden takes up very little space, especially when you suspend it on a wall to optimise the vertical space at your disposal. And the best part of it all? Upcycling tin cans to make your gardening dreams come true!
What you’ll need:
- tin cans (from soup, tomatoes, baked beans, canned fruit, etc.)
- spray paint
- wooden clothespins
- black acrylic paint
- a small wooden shelf (recycled)
- clear exterior varnish (weather-resistant)
- screws, wall anchors and various tools for DIY jobs
1 – Tin cans
Step 1: Collect your cans
Many of us buy canned goods without giving it a second thought. Instead of recycling them, you can upcycle tin cans for DIY projects like this one. Any tin is suitable for this project as long as it offers sufficient space for small plants such as herbs.
Step 2: Drill and sandpaper
Before getting started, we recommend sanding the top edges of the tin cans with a piece of sandpaper. As this part can sometimes be jagged and sharp, sanding it first will prevent injury later.
Next, create a hole at the bottom of the cans. Simply use a screw for this step or make the job easier with a small drill.
The hole becomes very important later on in the project.
Step 3: Get painting!
After sanding and drilling, we are are ready for a colourful makeover! We prefer spray paint, which gives you a glossy finish and won’t leave traces from the paintbrush. Depending on the effect you’re going for, you can also use other kinds of paint.
Basically, all kinds of paint are fine as long as you use one that is water-resistant.
Step 4: Finishing touches
After painting your cans, you can decorate them any way you choose and using a technique you enjoy. We love a finish that is minimal, elegant and rustic at the same time.
The technique above is relatively easy to follow: glue some twine around the bottom of the can using a glue gun or a decent amount of PVA glue.
2 – The wooden shelf
Creating your wooden shelf doesn’t take a lot of work. What’s more, even those with minimal DIY skills can do it!
Step 1: Attach the brackets
We recommend starting the job by attaching small L-shaped brackets directly onto the plywood, placing one in the middle and the other two at the same distance from the edge of the wood.
Use wood screws for this, but make sure they aren’t too long. For the perfect finish, they shouldn’t poke out on the other side of the wood.
Step 2: Make holes in the wall
At this stage, place your shelf on the wall where you want to position your garden. Next, mark dots that match the holes in the brackets using a pencil. Finally, make the holes with a drill and insert wall anchors that will serve to support the entire structure.
Step 3: Add protection
If you want to protect the shelf from rain, apply a coat of clear, weather-resistant varnish.
This extra layer of protection will keep your creation in good condition by repelling water from the surface, so it won’t soak into the plywood and rot the shelf.
3 – Creating your herb garden
Step 1: Join your cans to the shelf
With everything painted, you can now add the cans to the shelf.
Since the garden will be outside and therefore exposed to the weather, we recommend screwing the cans to the shelf. That way, you prevent the risk of wind toppling your cans and ruining the plants inside.
Attach the cans to the wood and screw the shelf into the wall using the anchors you have positioned.
Step 2: Herbs
It’s now time to organise your herbs on their new shelf! Put your favourite herbs in the cans, in whichever order you like best.
To give your herb garden a little something extra, you can add small tags (once again from plywood) where you can display the name of each variety. To do this, we recommend painting the wood cut-outs with black acrylic paint and then sticking lettering decals on them, preferably in white.
However, for those of you with a steady hand, why not show off your skills and write the names of the herbs you’ve chosen in chalk? Finally, attach the tags to small wooden clothespins using a glue gun, and then attach them to the designated cans on the shelf.
4 – Sit back and enjoy your garden!
Upcycling tin cans is not just fun: the result looks great and the process is accessible and affordable as well. With this setup, even if you live in the city, you’ll only have to step out onto your balcony and make use of your small herb garden to prepare mouth-watering meals made even more delicious because they are locally sourced.
The garden can also be adapted to different spatial requirements. For example, you can make several shelves and position them above one another, make ones in different shapes or shorter ones and turn them into a corner unit.
When it comes to different styles and colour combinations, the possibilities are endless! Now it’s your turn to choose the ones that best suit your home and tastes. Happy DIYing!