Upcycling A Plastic Garbage Box

My Sweet Cottage
by My Sweet Cottage
2 Materials
2 Hours

This year, I decided to grow my squash seedlings in a large container instead of planting them directly into the ground. The only problem was that I didn't have a large container. But, searching behind the garage, I found an old, used plastic garbage box. Some time ago, we'd upgraded to a different box, and our curbside waste disposal company hadn't wanted to take the old one back.

It would work as a container, but I would definitely have to dress it up!


The first order of business was to add drainage to the bottom of the box by drilling five holes.

Dressing It Up

Now I needed to find a way to conceal its ugliness. I had a few used burlap coffee sacks on hand. One of them would work nicely.

Wanting to save the more attractive sacks for other projects, I chose one with simple bold lettering.

I cut the fabric to roughly the size I needed, leaving a generous amount of excess fabric so that I could position the graphic lettering exactly where I wanted it to go

Then, I just wrapped the burlap around the box and pinned everything for sewing. I pinned the burlap so that it would wrap very snugly around the top of the box, but I wanted the bottom to look a bit slouchy – like a burlap sack.

On the bottom, I gathered and stitched the fabric at each corner.

The fabric would wrap around the bottom of the box by a couple of inches on each side.

Why didn’t I just cover the entire bottom with burlap? Because dirty water draining from the box would soil the burlap.

I hemmed the top edge of the burlap wrap just to keep it from unraveling, and then I folded the burlap over at the top of the box. Since I had sewn the top to fit snugly, this fold-over is all that is needed to keep the fabric from sliding down.

To make the look more interesting, I positioned the lettering to read vertically instead of horizontally.

The lettering is running in a straight line vertically, but I must confess that I was not very careful about making sure that the cuts and seams were straight. This is no doubt the most slapped-together, slipshod sewing project ever to emerge from my sewing room. But since it’s supposed to look like a slouchy burlap sack, that doesn’t even matter.

The Result

The squash seedlings look happy in their new home. And the burlap doesn’t just sit there looking pretty: It will also help to shield the black plastic from the hot summer sun – hopefully keeping the soil and plant roots from overheating.

But how will the burlap look once it’s been hit by weather? I found out almost immediately. The very night after I put the container in the garden, rain and wind kicked up.

The next morning, the rain had stopped and the burlap was drying quickly.

Later that day, when the sun came out, the plants and the burlap had made a complete recovery. But I'm not kidding myself: By the end of the season, the burlap wrap will probably be looking very rustic.

Since I had all the materials on hand, this project cost me nothing. But I'm estimating the cost at a generous $20 for someone who needs to purchase a used plastic box and a used burlap coffee sack.

If you saw my recent post, where I transformed a  burlap coffee sack into a cushion cover, you probably think I’ve become a one-trick pony.

It’s just that burlap can serve so many purposes – and even solve problems like the one I had with these squash seedlings – or when I needed inexpensive  light-duty window shades for my greenhouse.

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My Sweet Cottage
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Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Pam-ella Pam-ella on May 30, 2020

    Does the garden box have drainage holes? You did a great job!

Join the conversation
2 of 3 comments
  • Dl.5660408 Dl.5660408 on May 30, 2020

    Very nicely done, not at all slipshod!

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Jun 14, 2020

    Thanks for the inspiration, we have an expired paper shredder, the box under it is fine. This will work perfectly for this project with the plastic rice sacks from an Asian restaurant. Sounds like today's activity & love the idea of squash growing up, keeping it away from the critters.