Cool Idea: Using a Freezer as a Planter…

by heather

31105447_1Ok ok, I know that blog title makes a lousy joke. But I couldn’t help it!

My friend over at Renaissance Ronin sent me this nifty little planting trick, and I wanted to share it with all of you.

You can use broken freezers to start seeds, and grow vegetables.

Now, I can sense the eye-rolling from here, but hear me out. I know that the thought of using a broken down freezer might be a bit “countryish”. And, since I come from the center of Redneck Universe in Louisiana, I can say that yes, undecorated and unaltered, using a freezer in your yard might not appeal to some people.

BUT. It works. And, it’s a great way to repurpose a HUGE item that would just end up taking up a ton of space in the landfill.

And, I put some brainstorming effort in to come up with ways we could spice these up to make them cooler.

Oh, I can’t help with the bad jokes on this one! Sorry.

First, the why…

Why Use a Chest Freezer?

The nifty thing about using chest freezers to start plants is that they’re insulated. This means that, with the lid closed, your tiny little seedlings are going to stay warm, even on the coldest nights. This means you can start then earlier than other methods.

Second, if you use the freezer to actually plant vegetables, you don’t have to worry about rabbits and other animals sneaking in to nibble your harvest. They’re protected in there!

A chest freezer would also be a frugal way for community gardens to start tons of seeds, or grow root crops.

How to Use a Chest Freezer for Planting

So, how do you create a chest freezer planter?

You first need to put some kind of platform in in there to hold your plants. Milk crates usually work best. This way you won’t have to bend over when you’re pulling your plants out.

You can also plant your vegetables directly into the milk crates: simply line them with a black plastic garbage bag (poke plenty of holes for drainage), dump in the dirt, and plant your seeds. Instant vegetable bed!

You can also turn the chest freezer into an awesome little greenhouse by taking off the lid, and then using an old glass window or clear sheet of plastic to cover the opening.

Decorating the Chest Freezer…

I know that the look of the chest freezer is going to be a big drawback here. But the good news?

Essentially, chest freezers are just large white boxes. Empty canvas!

Most paint won’t stick to metal, although Ehow offers up some useful instructions to get it to work. With a few extra ingredients from the hardware store, you can paint these things.

  • I think a freezer painted to look like sunflowers against a cloudy blue sky would look really nice.
  • You could also put windowsill pots along the sides of the freezer (drilling them directly into the metal sides) and plant strawberries, creeping thyme, or other “trailing” plants that would hide the metal.
  • What about putting chalkboard paint on them? You could let your kids decorate the freezer with colored chalk, and then let the rain wash it off.
  • Even wrapping it in burlap or canvas would be an easy way to disguise it.

Using a Charcoal Grill as a Planter…

Just a few minutes after this article originally posted my friend Suzanne said that she used to grow lettuce in her charcoal grill.

I thought that was an awesome idea! She even sent along a picture:


She said the grill worked great for drainage (thanks to the air flow vent) and the charcoal residue deterred insects.

Thanks Suzanne!

Using an Old Toilet as a Planter

Well, the cool ideas keep coming in!

This morning, a reader named Scott Sysum from White Plains, MD wrote in with his idea: using old toilets as planters. He said he used a pry bar to punch a hole in the bottom of the toilet so it drained better, and the tank itself already drained well on its own.

And, he sent in a wonderful picture!

Toilets as planters...

Toilets as planters...

Thanks, Scott, for sharing that great idea (and picture!) with us!

Last Word…

So there you have it. Chest freezers (and charcoal grills and toilets) as planters.

It might not work for city neighborhoods (I can only imagine the complaints, given the number of people complaining about outdoor clothes lines), but out in the country this would be an awesome way to add space to your garden, and keep tender seeds safe from nibbling rabbits.

What do you think? Good idea, or would it look too bad for you to consider it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

{ 2 trackbacks }

Chest Freezer to Keg-O-Rator Conversion Part 1A
March 13, 2010 at 4:25 pm
Freezers - Choose The Best Brand
March 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm


Claire March 2, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Broken chest freezers also make terrific root cellars. An added bonus is that once they’re buried in the ground, there’s no need to disguise the fact that you have a freezer on your lawn. The book, Root Cellaring, has a good a how-to for using a chest freezer as a root cellar. If you had a pair of freezers, you could grow your veggies in one, and store the surplus in the other.

heather March 3, 2010 at 6:41 am

@Claire- that’s a wonderful idea! I’d thought of planting potatoes in one, but never would have thought of actually burying the freezer. That’s a great idea, thanks so much for sharing!

TheDebtDarling March 3, 2010 at 11:16 pm

I love your idea of painting the freezer with chalkboard paint. That’s great. I had no idea that an old freeze could be such a great place to grow your seedling. Thanks for this tip.

Sharon McLachlan June 14, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Hi I have a broken freezer I love your idea, but mine is stainless steel. That’s why I got the net in the first place. Not sure if it would be safe to possible problems contaminating food. What do you think. It is winter here in my part of Australia
Din’t want to add more to land fill than needed.

Charlene September 16, 2016 at 1:41 pm

I’m actually using my broken freezer for the lack of a different purpose to store outdoor cushions when not in use. . It seems to keep them from smelling musty. I’ve found even dry basements produces musty odors over time. I’m sure I’ll find other uses and this is a start.

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