Need a few more flower and vegetable pots, but don’t want to spend the big bucks to get them? All you need is spray paint to create a beautiful 5 gallon bucket planter.
Adding plants to your outdoor decor can be a great way to increase the curb appeal of your home.
Unfortunately, many yards have limited space and can’t add a traditional garden or large plants and trees.
That is why container gardening can be a great option if you are looking to add a focal point to your patio or front porch. It is also another way to increase your growing space if you have a small garden or live in a home that has minimal outdoor space.
However, purchasing a large container to grow plants in can get expensive. Larger containers tend to be pricey, especially if you need a lot of them.
One solution I have found to the problem is painting 5-gallon buckets a bright color and turning them into part of my garden design and front porch decor.
I am always looking for ways to upcycle things in our home. Decorating plastic buckets from our remodeling projects to make them worthy of my front patio is a fun and easy project.
Note: If you plan to use your 5 gallon buckets for container vegetable gardening then paying attention to the type of plastic it is made of is important. Using a food grade bucket is also a good idea for edible plants.
Upcycling 5 gallon buckets from remodeling projects can be a good option if you are planting flowers or using a smaller “safe” pot inside your bucket. This can protect the fresh vegetables you are growing from getting contaminated from the plastic or past products inside your buckets.
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Materials You Need:
- Empty 5-gallon bucket (food grade if you plan to plant vegetables)
- Spray primer (I used this brand)
- Spray paint I used orange spray paint, yellow spray paint, and this green spray paint in gloss finish.
- Drill and drill bit for drilling holes in bottom of bucket
- Paper or plastic to cover top of bucket while painting
- Painter’s tape
How to Decorate a 5 Gallon Bucket Planter
Step 1: Drill Drainage Holes
Take a drill and drill bit and create multiple holes in the bottom of the bucket. This will allow excess water to escape from the bucket.
Good drainage is important, especially when it rains outside. Having a way for the rain water to escape will keep the garden soil from washing out of your bucket.
Also, if your bucket has too much water and the roots sit in water-logged soil, they can rot. Creating adequate drainage is the first step to proper care for your plants.
Step 2: Clean the 5 Gallon Bucket
After you drill holes in your container, you need to clean the bucket.
Wash your bucket in soapy water and rinse it well to remove any plastic particles or dirt.
Step 3: Prime it
After you let your bucket dry, tape plastic or paper over the top of the bucket with painter’s tape to prevent paint from going inside the bucket. If you want to paint the top rim, tape the plastic or paper just inside the top of the bucket.
Choose a spray paint primer that adheres well to plastic and spray it onto the outside of the bucket.
The plastic or paper will hopefully prevent the primer from getting inside the bucket. If the primer does spray into the bucket, it might start to flake and contaminate the soil.
Step 4: Paint it
After you have primed your bucket, you are ready to paint it.
Use spray paint in fun colors for decorating your plastic buckets. I chose to use solid and bright colors to give a pop of color to my front patio. However, feel free to be creative.
Keep the plastic or paper on the top of your bucket so that you don’t get paint inside the bucket. It will flake off onto the top of the soil in your bucket over time.
Use several thin coats of spray paint to prevent the paint from running. This also gives it a more even coat. Follow the instruction on the can for drying times in between coats.
Give the buckets a couple of days to fully dry. Then fill them with soil and you are ready to add plants.
Are Plastic Buckets Safe For Vegetables?
There is some concern about the use of plastics in vegetable gardening. Because of this, it is something to be aware of as you start your gardening journey.
Plastic does tend to leach chemicals and some plastics are worse than others. Being aware of what type of plastic your container is made out of is important in making a good choice for your container garden.
If you plan to use a 5 gallon bucket, food safe containers made with #2, #4, & #5 plastic are thought to be best for container vegetable gardens. Mixing organic material into your potting soil and making sure there is adequate drainage to wash any contaminate through the soil when you water, can be helpful.
There are a lot of different containers out there and there are pros and cons to almost every type of container. There are also many garden pots available to purchase for your gardening needs. I honestly have not noticed food safe labels on the majority of those pots.
So, if you are wanting to get into bucket gardening and grow your own food it is important to do research to decide what you are comfortable with and what is the right container for you.
Again, if you are only planting flowers in your 5 gallon bucket garden, there is more freedom in the different materials you choose to use to house your plants.
The following articles have more information about plastics and can start you off on doing a little research of your own.
- Choose safe containers for growing food from the Microgardener
- Growing food in plastic containers – is it safe? from Garden Myths
- Safe containers for organic gardening from Homeguides
My 5 Gallon Bucket Planter Decorating Mistakes
I did make a few mistakes when I made my 5 gallon bucket planters that I wanted to share with you.
Mistake #1: Not using primer when painting 5 gallon buckets
I didn’t use primer the first time I sprayed my buckets. The buckets actually lasted longer than I expected without looking too horrible, but the paint slowly started to flake off and by the time I repainted them they were looking pretty sad.
I would definitely recommend using a primer or some other form of adherent to give the paint something to stick to.
Mistake #2: Not being careful with the inside of my bucket.
I got a little carried away the first time I painted and I got quite a bit of the paint inside my bucket. This paint later chipped off into my soil and I had to dump it out. So make sure you don’t get paint inside your 5 gallon bucket planter.
If you are concerned about the paint used on the bucket, you can always find VOC compliant paint that is food safe, but it is more expensive. It is better to just avoid getting it into the bucket.
Mistake #3: Not being as aware of the concerns about plastic.
The buckets I used in this post were #2 HDPE which is thought to be the safest buckets for planting at the time of writing this post (of course, do your own research on this issue). However, using buckets for vegetables that had other products previously housed in them, is not something I would now recommend.
If you are planning to plant vegetables, use a food safe 5 gallon bucket. You can also use terra cotta or unglazed pots as well as ones made from untreated wood.
How Many Plants Per 5 Gallon Bucket?
Now that you have some pretty 5-gallon buckets, you might be wondering what to plant in them and how many plants you can fit in each bucket.
The answer: It all depends on what types of plants you are planning on planting.
Some of the more popular plants to grow in a container garden are flowers, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, and bean plants.
Be aware that you will need to fertilize your plants throughout the season to keep the right soil nutrients for the type of plants you are growing.
Also, buckets tend to dry out quickly and need more frequent watering than plants that are grown directly in the soil. Bucket gardening does take commitment to water, fertilize, and care for the needs of your plants
How many Flowers Per 5 Gallon Bucket
You can grow a lot of colorful flowers in one 5 gallon bucket.
Flowers are some of the best plants to grow in 5 gallon buckets because they don’t require a lot of space to grow. They can also be grown in a mix of shade or sun. Finding unique pairings that love partial shade or full sun can be a great way to add beauty to your home patio or porch.
Plus, flowers add beauty and color from early spring all through the summer months.
How Many Tomato Plants Per 5 Gallon Bucket
I have found that one tomato plant fits well in each 5 gallon bucket. I use a tomato cage around the taller plants to help support them and keep them from tipping over.
Make sure to fertilize the plant throughout the summer months as tomatoes are prone to blossom end rot if the plant runs out of calcium in the soil. Plant in full sun.
How Many Pepper Plants Per 5 Gallon Bucket
Each bucket fits a single plant and should be placed in full sun. Too many plants will cause the bucket to be overcrowded and not allow the plant to produce enough vegetables.
My favorite peppers to grow in 5 gallon buckets are jalapeno peppers as they are a hardy plant and I tend to get a good harvest each year.
How Many Cucumber Plants Per 5 Gallon Bucket
Cucumbers can be a little trickier to grow in 5 gallon buckets.
You need a trellis or tomato cage large enough for the cucumber plant to grow upwards so keep that in mind when figuring out how to grow cucumbers in 5 gallon buckets. There may be some trial and error to finding the best trellis for your cucumbers. If you are placing your bucket on dirt, you can build this easy DIY trellis to stick in the ground next to it.
To grow cucumbers in 5 gallon buckets place 5-6 cucumber seeds in the soil. Once the seeds begin to grow, weed out about half of the weakest plants. Leave 2-3 healthy plants in each bucket.
Keep the soil fertilized and damp and place it in a sunny space.
How Many Bean Seeds Per 5 Gallon Bucket
It depends on whether you grow bush beans or vine beans. I love to grow beans on a trellis in front of my patio.
I made this easy DIY garden trellis which I place in the soil in front of my patio. The past couple of summers, I have grown these beans in an old pot that I freshened up with spray paint (another great option to add life back into an ugly pot). A 5 gallon bucket planter would also work great!
I grow 5-6 vine beans in the back of the pot, closest to my trellis, and grow small flowers or purple basil in the front of the pot. You could also add 5-6 bush beans in the front. Always plant a few extra seeds with the goal to weed out any that are not healthy looking.
Other Bucket Planting Ideas
There are so many fun flower and vegetable container garden ideas if you allow yourself the chance to be creative and experiment. You don’t have to limit each pot to one kind of vegetable. Have fun finding plants that compliment each other and combine these particular plants into beautiful pairings.
Try planting flowers with vegetables to create an edible flower garden.
Or add a small plant type, such as lettuce, as a filler and grow a variety of colorful salad greens for your home.
Filling the small spaces of your yard with a container garden can add the color your home needs. It is also the perfect way to incorporate beauty into your outdoor living spaces.
The best part about creating your own container garden is the freedom to experiment, learn, and grow.
At the end of the growing season, take note of specific plants that did well and write them down. That way you can try them again the following year.
Container gardening is a perfect way to add beauty and growing space to your yard, especially if you don’t have a lot of room.
I hope that you will give your pots and buckets a second life! Use this fun technique to create beauty on your porch or deck this summer.
If you have some sad looking outdoor furniture check out this post on refinishing your outdoor patio furniture with spray paint. Or for another spray paint project, check out how to paint ceramic to look like brushed bronze.