Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Use Storage Bins for Container Gardening

By Tom Ross ; Updated September 21, 2017

Using storage bins for container gardening is inexpensive, space efficient and productive. A storage bin can consist of a heavy duty 30 gallon plastic container, a milk jug cut in half and anything in between. Storage container gardening is simpler than conventional gardening because you control the amount of sunlight, water, nutrients and to some extent the temperature. The storage container garden is easier to tend to because there is a very low incidence of weed and insect infestation with no digging and bending over.

Locate the storage container garden on a level balcony, deck or patio with a western or southern exposure that receives six to eight hours of sunlight daily with a nearby water supply. The space available dictates the size of container used.

Choose a food-safe, sturdy, light-colored container resistant to becoming brittle from the sun and outdoor elements. Dark containers absorb heat from the sun and can damage root systems.

Select a container with of depth of 8 to 12 inches to accommodate the root systems of most plants.

Drill three evenly spaced 1-inch drain-holes in the bottom of the storage container, and cover these with coffee filters to keep the growing medium from leaching out of the holes when watered.

Fill the storage container with the growing medium of your choice to accommodate the plants you wish to grow.


Things You Will Need

  • Storage container
  • Electric drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Coffee filters
  • Growing medium


  • Don’t use storage containers that have been used for anything other than food.
  • Heat build-up can be a problem in the relatively small storage container of soil. If your plants are wilting, consider rigging a shade of loosely woven cloth over the container during the hottest part of the day.
  • A soil mixture of equal parts of sand, loamy soil and peat moss is one option for a growing medium.
  • Weeds and insect infestation is not a problem with storage container gardens and chemicals are not necessary.


  • Container gardens become very heavy when filled with growing medium and are difficult to move.
  • Place the storage container on a rubber mat that drains off of the deck or patio to avoid water stains.

About the Author


Freelance writing since 2009, Tom Ross has over 30 years of corporate management and hands-on experience in the supermarket industry. Ross was featured on the cover of "Instore Buyer" magazine and his articles have appeared on various websites.