Most gardeners have a collection of old plastic pots tucked away in the back of the shed. It's hard to part with this pile of plastic that once formed the lovely container and hanging basket gardens in the landscape. The use of weathered plastic pots in landscape design takes into account the natural degradation of materials with exposure to sun and weather. The aged look of these planters can be duplicated easily for use in exterior home decoration.
Locate an area of the garden that experiences direct sun all day to benefit from the heat of the sun's rays. Intense sun will lighten plastic materials over the course of a growing season to create an aged look.
Place the plastic pots upside down on a soil or organically mulched surface in the sunny location. Make sure the pot receives light on all sides. Placement of the pot in a garden bed allows exposure to heated soils as well as splashing of dirt particles onto the side of the pot to provide irregularities in weathering.
Place a sturdy brick on top of each pot to keep it in place. Position drainage trays next to the pots or keep these items attached to the bottom of the planter so weathering is uniform between each pot piece.
Squirt a jet of water from the garden hose at the pots to get them started and watch Mother Nature do her best to weather the plastic. You'll see a lightening of the plastic as well as accumulations of dirt, soil and plant debris attaching to the sides of the pot.
Check progress once a month to gauge the level of weathering. Remember that continued exposure of plastic to hot sun will weaken and dry out the material. Don't leave the plastic pots outside for more than a few months or the pot will become brittle.
Rinse and scrub all dirt from the pot after weathering finishes and use as a container garden in the landscape.
Weathering Painting Technique
Rough up the entire surface of the plastic plant pot with fine-grit sandpaper. This allows the paint to adhere to the relatively smooth surface. Do not apply too much pressure to limit destroying the natural grains in the plastic.
Apply a layer of white craft paint to the inside and outside of the pot as well as the drainage tray. Allow the paint to dry and paint a second coat on the pot using slightly watered-down paint. Thinner paint will limit the filling of any textured surfaces on the plant pot. Allow the pot to dry completely.
Place a few drops of blue paint (or any darker color) onto a clean paper plate. Add 1 tsp. of water and mix thoroughly to make a wash. Dab one rag into the wash lightly and rub the paint against a dry, clean rag to evenly distribute the liquid. Rub the outside of the pot with the wash to begin the discoloration of the pot.
Allow the wash to dry for 30 minutes and gauge the results. The pot will have a mottled patina that can be adjusted with the application of another layer of wash.
Apply a small amount of wash to the paintbrush and dab excess onto a dry cloth. Lightly brush paint onto the plastic pot to add a weathered look.