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How to Upcycle Old Boots – Succulent Boot Planter

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This post will show you how to make a boot planter from that pair of old boots that has started to leak. It’s a fun and quirky addition to your garden and a lovely home for plants like succulents.

Succulents are perfect for this project as they are easier to keep alive in unconventional planters like your old boots!

It’s a classic upcycle and if you are new to all of this then its a very easy and satisfying way to start.

It’s a practical use for your old well trodden friends and the visual treat of plants of any kind in an old pair of boots never gets old.

This post was originally published in May 2019 but I’m updating it now because I’ve made some improvements on my existing boot planters to make them more stable – in short because we have a fox living at the end of our garden who thinks my boot planters make great play things and I kept finding them half way across the lawn in the morning!

Read on below for how to make one boot planter and then how to make my stabilised four in one version that I am loving!

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Materials Needed – Boot Planter:

For one or two free standing boot planters:

For the stabilised four in one boot planter:

  • Two pairs of old boots
  • all the rest of the materials as above
  • an offcut of scrap wood (I used some unfinished pallet wood)
  • larger rocks
  • Gorilla Wood Glue
gorilla wood glue

Step 1: Make drainage holes (Optional – see below)

It is important to have adequate drainage in your boot planters.

If water stands inside the boot, the roots of your plants might get too wet and rot.

Depending on the state of your boots you may not need to make extra drainage holes.

If your boots are truly worn out they might have holes in the soles already or the soles might be starting to come away.

To test if you need to create extra drainage holes, remove any insoles in your boot and pour a small amount of water in your empty boot. If water trickles out from below – you don’t need extra holes. If it doesn’t continue with this step.

To make drainage holes in your boot planters use your drill to drill some holes in the bottom of the boots – two or three should be plenty.

Use a larger bit and drill holes about an inch apart.

If you do not have a drill, you can also use a hammer and a large nail and start punching holes.

Step 2: Weigh them down

This is where the stones come in. The idea is to weigh the boot down so it doesn’t fall over. Stones will also provide some additional drainage. So fill the toes and ‘shoe’ of the boot to about the ankle mark with your stones, fairly tightly packed.

Step 2: Potting soil

how to make a boot planter

Once the rocks are in place, fill the boot with the potting soil and plant your succulent. Most succulents aren’t fussy but if you are unsure you can ask at your garden centre what the best potting soil for succulents is.

Thankfully succulents are low maintenance. Unlike other flowering plants, they do not require much watering, pruning or deadheading.

Lastly, water well when first planted and follow the care instructions for the succulent you have chosen.

Step 3: Find the perfect spot

If you are planting outside then the stones/rocks are essential to make sure it doesn’t get blown over in the wind (although read on for why I have reinforced my boot planters even further!).

If you are planning to keep your boot planter indoors you will need some sort of tray or plate to place it in to catch any drained water. Although succulents don’t need a lot of watering that doesn’t mean they never get watered!

You can get more creative with where you place your boot planter if it is going outside as you don’t need an extra plate underneath it. So it can go on a doorstep, front porch, or in a peekaboo corner of the garden as a fun surprise for explorers.

Succulents enjoy the sun so for best results pick a sunny spot or window ledge.

Four in one Stabilised Boot Planter

boot planter idea

Okay so the boot planters I made last year using this method would have survived just fine, even with the windiness of my garden if it weren’t for a certain Mrs. Fox who has her den and the end of my garden and likes to come out to play when we aren’t outside.

For some reason she has taken a fancy to my four boot planters and finds it great fun to bat them around like a dog with a tennis ball!

The upshot of all that is that only one of my succulents survived the repeated thrashings.

So with the sun coming out again I decided to have another go and see if I could create some reinforcement to make my boot planters less attractive to playful foxes.

Here is how I made my four in on stabilised boot planter!

Step 1: Find an offcut of wood

diy boot planter

I cut a small piece of pallet wood just big enough for all four of my boots to rest on side by side.

Step 2: Weigh down your boots

In order to glue the boots to the offcut of wood you need to get your boots good and heavy – so I used some larger rocks to fill them with temporarily (except for the one that still has a plant in it) while the glue dries.

DIY boot planter with pallet wood

Step 3: Glue the heel of each boot to the wood

Next I glued the heel of each of the boots to the wood. I had to prop the toes of one pair of boots up with another piece of wood to keep the heel level with the wood. This was because one pair of my boots still had soles and the other pair had had the soles ripped off by the fox!

Once you have them all set up and weighed down leave the glue to dry for an hour or two.

Step 4: Fill your Boots!

Next of course you have to fill your boots with your plants. I went for succulents again and I used the same method as above with small rocks below and soil above that.

Step 5: Dig in your wood (for outside use)

Lastly, if you are using this outside in your garden, like I did, you want to pick a spot for your boot planter and dig it in to the ground so that the wood is essentially covered by soil and rocks.

It’s just there to provide stability rather than for the wood to be seen.

You could of course adapt this for a front porch or somewhere else and leave the wood visible. In that case I would suggest using two planks of wood – one for the heels and one for the toes.

boot planter with succulents
boot planter four in a row
how to make boot planters

How to make a Stabilised Boot Planter

Active Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

An improvement on the classic boot planter idea - this is my 'stabilised' version involving four boots - it makes for a lovely rustic chic display.

Materials

  • Old Boots (2 pairs)
  • Small and large rocks
  • Potting Soil
  • Succulents or other plants
  • Gorilla Wood Glue
  • Offcut of wood

Instructions

  1. Find an offcut of wood that is long enough for all four of your boots to sit on it side by side (don't worry about the depth you just need the heels to fit on the wood).
  2. Fill your boots with lots of heavy rocks
  3. Glue the heels on to the wood and makes sure they are weighed down with rocks to dry.
  4. Once dry, take out the larger rocks and fill your boot with small stones first and then potting soil.
  5. Plant your succulents in your boots.
  6. Find a place in your garden and dig out some earth to place the wood in. Build up soil over and around the wood to hide it.

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If you are looking for more upcycled planter ideas try these:

And for more garden & outdoor upcycling ideas see these posts:

If you are brand new to upcycling make sure to visit this post too: What is Upcycling & What can you Upcycle?

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Rosemary McNulty

Saturday 24th of April 2021

If you choose to use these boot planters indoors, or move them inside during the winter, you can make a simple but natural base. Find a boot tray that your boots wil fit on, used or cheap one at a dollar store works well . Using one to two inch stones, (I like the river stone)place a layer to cover the boot tray. Following directions on the package, pour epoxy into the tray to partially cover the stones. This gives protection to your floors and is easy to spray clean if it gets dirty.

Kristen Hubert

Tuesday 27th of April 2021

Fab tip! Thanks so much!

Letha

Sunday 21st of March 2021

I love creating old shoe and boot planters! Instead of gluing the heels onto the board for stability, I'd attach them with some wood screws before adding the rocks and plants! Quick and easy! Such a fun project! Thanks

Kristen Hubert

Sunday 21st of March 2021

Thanks, great tip.

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