How to Make a Shovel Planter

With water-wise succulents and a few simple steps, this shovel planter design elevates vintage tools into planted garden displays.

Succulents are one of the easiest plants to grow. Made from objects likely found around your home, you can put this succulent project on display all summer long. Water thoroughly by soaking the planted tool and allowing it to dry out, ideally once weekly. Groom and trim pieces as the plants grow. If you lose a succulent, it’s easy to poke a new cutting in place.

For gardens in warmer climates, use tender succulent plants. In colder regions, choose winter-hardy Sedum or Sempervivum varieties, such as hens-and-chicks, or store tools with tender succulents indoors where they will be protected but receive ample light.

Editor's Tip: Display this succulent project in a bright area, but avoid full sun. Keep in mind that succulents require 6–8 hours of full sun each day.

  • Working Time 1 Hour
  • Start to Finish 1 Hour
  • Difficulty         Projects Easy
  • Involves Planting

What you need

Tools

  • Wire cutters
  • Garden trowel
  • Spray bottle and water
  • Small paintbrush, use the handle for poking planting holes; use the brush for cleaning dirt from leaves of planted succulents

Materials

  • Floral wire mesh, regular chickenwire fencing can be substituted, but floral wire is easier to cut and shape
  • Floral wire
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Cactus soil mix
  • Assorted potted succulents and succulent cuttings
  • Floral pins

How to do it

Step 1 Create Cage

Create a wire cage, which serves as the planting pocket. Cut a section of wire mesh or chicken wire long enough to fit around the tool, and attach at the back with floral wire; secure tightly. You may need to “sew” the bottom of the wire mesh to make a planting pocket. For larger tools, drill small holes through the tool to secure wire mesh.

Step 2 Attach Moss

Hydrate large pieces of sphagnum moss in a bucket of water for a few minutes. (It will be easier to work with when moist.) Working from inside the wire mesh, line the planting pocket with moist sphagnum moss. Poke extra moss through openings in the mesh, covering the entire cage and wrapping the edges. This creates the planting pocket to hold soil and succulents.

Step 3 Add Soil

Once the moss coating is attached to the outside of the wire pocket, add a few scoops of cactus soil mix to the pocket. Moisten the soil with a spray bottle.

Step 4 Arrange And Plant Succulents

Add plants to the tool. Start with a large focal-point plant, and place smaller succulents above and around it. Remove excess soil from the root ball to accommodate more succulents. Insert succulent cuttings into smaller spaces.

Step 5 Secure Succulent Arrangement

Use floral pins to secure succulents as you continue to design. Brush soil off leaves with the paintbrush. Add moss to cover any exposed soil. 

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