DIY Galvanized Washtub Planters

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Make these easy DIY vintage galvanized washtub planters to add a perfect touch of autumn to your porch decor. Includes step-by-step instructions with pictures.

fall front porch with galvanized washtub planters 2022

*August 2022: this post was originally published in 2014, and is still a great DIY idea. It has been completely updated with re-edited and larger images, better organized information, and source links. Enjoy!

DIY Galvanized Washtub Planters for Fall

When I shared my fall front porch, I showed you a pair of DIY galvanized washtub planters that were new additions flanking my door. I have been thinking about replacing the tall black planters for a while, but had a hard time finding exactly what I wanted…mostly because I wasn’t really sure what that was! In the end I got two vintage washtubs, and I love them. They are a completely different look from before which is what I wanted. They were very easy to put together, and I used items I already had in my garage. You can see in the top image below my starting point.

galvanized washtub fall planter idea collage 1

Assembly Steps

  • I didn’t want to fill the entire tub with potting soil, and I needed something to contain the grapevine topiary. The solution was two very nasty pots in my garage that were the perfect size.
  • Next I took up some of the extra space in the tub with packing material. Packing peanuts or plastic bottles work well, but I had the packing pillows on hand, and they worked great.
  • I then added fresh potting soil to the pot and the rest of the tub. A little slipped down into the packing material, but most of it stayed on top. The next step was nestling the topiary into the pot.
galvanized washtub fall planter idea collage 2
  • The lights were left on the topiaries from last year, so I tested them to make sure they still were functioning. They worked fine, so I left them on. I wished afterwards that I had thought ahead, and purchased brown corded lights. (I will list that source, along with some others, at the end of the post.)
  • It boggled my mind a little that at this point it was all coming together. When I started I really wasn’t sure!
  • The next step was adding the ivy. I had been growing ivy in porch planters since spring. All I did was divide each ivy plant into four parts. I then planted them in the 4 corners of each tub. I checked at Lowe’s for ivy plants, and they still have them. Another option is to dig up hardy ivy from your yard (if you have it.)
grapevine cone topiary in washtub with ivy and pumpkins

Here’s where I did a happy dance because this random idea of mine was a success. Believe me, I have had my share of fails, and was afraid this would be another. As always, I made a big mess, but it was so worth it!

tiny pumpkins nestled in planter with greenery 2022

Adding Fall Color

The finishing touch was sticking some fresh bittersweet around the bottom of the topiary, and adding a few little pumpkins. Any sort of orange or gold faux berries would work just as well. If you have squirrels, even faux pumpkins would be a good idea. My squirrels have already had lunch in my tubs.

galvanized wash tubs with fall plants 2022

The plan is to keep these going through the holidays. I’m winding the ivy up the topiaries as it grows. Even if the ivy dies, which I don’t think it will, I can add fresh greenery when the holidays roll around. I don’t have the lights hooked up yet…I thought I would save that until Christmas.

christmas front porch with rockers and greenery 2022

I kept to the plan and repurposed the galvanized washtubs for Christmas. (Pictured above.) I removed the pumpkins and bittersweet, and replaced it with pieces of fresh greenery. The ivy was still going strong, so of course I left it in the tubs.

fall planter idea vintage washtub grapevine tree ivy pumpkins

This just might rank in my top 5 favorite projects ever for a few reasons. First it was easy, and didn’t take much time. It was budget friendly too. I paid $25 for each tub, but I’m sure they could be found for a better price at yard sales or flea markets. There have been many projects that I’ve had to give up on because I couldn’t complete them by myself. This was the perfect blend of gardening and decor…and I did it all on my own.

all in one place!

The Ultimate Guide to Fall

a collection of autumn decor inspiration, fun crafts, fall wreaths, and yummy recipes all in one place. It’s the ultimate guide to fall, and provides easy links to find exactly what you
are looking for!

*Affiliate links included. See my disclosure statement for details.

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  1. i love the simplicity of your creative ideas. In Minnesota I may have to use faux ivy but I love that your ideas are adaptable.

  2. Barb Hahn says:

    I think this is super cute. Thanks for sharing. I will try this out.

  3. Very attractive and fall-like. They seem to go with the season. You always create the most charming displays. Happy Fall!

  4. These look absolutely fabulous! How creative and beautiful for autumn.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I just realized this was you…thanks Pinky!

  5. I love the way you style your front door! Some really beautiful ideas here…

  6. Julie {Lilacs & Longhorns} says:

    I love how your wash tubs turned out, Ann! And, I had no idea I could order bittersweet from ebay! I may try it next year…it looks so much nicer than what is for sale here.
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Ann, that looks so wonderful and in keeping with the season! Actually, I have two “washtub planters” in my back garden. They were retrieved from my father’s hobby farm. He passed away 5 years ago, but I have a memory of him through the planters. However, I didn’t use any filler, I completely filled them with my soil mixture (soil, bone meal, peat moss, shake and feed and eggshells). I will say, your method is far more frugal, lol!

  8. Barb Killam says:

    Just lovely and it’s nice to see someone else makes as much mess as I do when I’m into the dirt. Where I live in Lethbridge it’s a constant struggle with the wind when trying to decorate. There is nothing that can be planted here over winter and survive, but I’m going to attempt something similar with fake plants – any suggestions on how to keep it all from blowing away :-)

  9. Ann…..Love All your creative porch ideas…..Are your grapevine topiaries 24″ or 36″ tall ???

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Kay! Mine are 24″ but 36″ would work just as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. I love how these turned out, they are just gorgeous. I use packing material in my planters, but I use weed barrier on top so I don’t lose any soil, the soil has gotten so expensive I don’t want to lose any.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Oh weed barrier is a brilliant idea. Thank you!

      1. Kellyann Fleming says:

        Instead of weed barrier you could use newspaper which is biodegradable.

  11. Donna Martin says:

    I love love love the toparies and even though you say they are simple it looks like they took a lot of time to me!!!

  12. I love it and I think you’ve done a great job! I need to plant me some bittersweet, where do you find the plant, or seed? And is it true that you have to have male and female plants to have berries? We used to be able to drive old country roads and find it in fence rows, but it is getting harder and harder to find.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Bittersweet is like holly. Some varieties you need a male/female and some you don’t. Mine I did not. I got one plant at my local nursery about 5 years ago. You can also order it online. Just make sure you get the American Bittersweet and not the oriental. I think the oriental is much more invasive…although I’m not an expert. Thanks for your comment!

  13. suzanne morse says:

    I believe your design is the best I have seen…love all the elements!!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you Suzanne! Hope your weekend is perfect…Ann

  14. Anne helder says:

    I just love it, as it can be from rustic to contempory porch.
    I think to do it, living in France in the middle of nowhere but forest and forest and more forest.
    A warm welcome for neighbours ( 4 in total ) and all my friends brave enough to come often in MY paradise.
    Thank you Anne.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you for stopping by all the way from France!

      1. Anne helder says:

        My pleasure, love this kind of travel :)) and your blog.

  15. I love these Ann. Great job!

  16. debbiedoos says:

    Such a cute idea Ann! I love it.

  17. Love the tub planters. I have several of them outside around my home and love how the plants look in them! I love the grapevine trees…might have to do that on my front porch. thanks for the idea

  18. Absolutely fabulous idea! Doable! Versatile!

  19. Nana Diana says:

    Ann-Those look fabulous! Those would work great here, too, because it gets so cold that I don’t dare leave my big ceramic pots out for fear they will freeze and break. You did a wonderful job on them. Love the ivy and the topiaries. Hope you have a great day- xo Diana