Upcycle a discarded old window into a gorgeous garden feature of an wonderful window herb planter.
When a good friend recently had new windows, she was going to discard the hundred-year-old sashes she’d replaced. Luckily I managed to stop her!
A first, Wendy was skeptical about my plans to turn the old windows into a feature for the garden. However, in the end, she was delighted with the result. She said it was one of her favorite upcycles.
Not only does it look good, but it’s practical too. The upcycled window herb planter looks fantastic. I now have a little herb garden.
DIY Upcycled Window and Tin Cans Herb Planter
The herbs are in handy portable upcycled tin can planters. These can be easily taken into the kitchen when needed.
I used tin cans as planters, as I had great success with them with the rainbow planter I made last summer.
I can’t resist a pun especially when it comes to song lyrics (see Sit Down cushion), so that’s why I went for one of my favorite 80’s classics Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time“ for my window sign.
This is a free tutorial and template. The sign was hand-painted without using a stencil, so no specialist stencil printer needed just a normal printer.
It is what I call a double upcycle as two things were repurposed, old windows and some tin cans. This project was featured in the alphabet of clever upcycling ideas.
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What you need to make an upcycled window herb planter
- Old window – Any old wooden window would do. Just keep an eye out in skips or for anyone having new windows put in. Most people will happily give you their old windows for free. It saves them having to make a trip to the dump.
- Tin cans – I used six standard-sized tin cans for my window herb planter.
- Cream spray paint for the cans.
- Cavallini vintage insect wrapping paper for my images. There are some free dragonfly images here that would work well too.
- An old piece of pallet wood to make a window shelf.
- Six strong magnets (optional).
- Scissors, glue, spray varnish, hammer, nails, and a drill.
- Bee and sign template which you can download here: Bee Template & Thyme Sign Template.
- Paints suitable for painting on glass and brushes. I used just 2 colors black and yellow.
How to make your upcycled window herb planter
PART ONE: Painting the Window
1.. Even though the sash windows were over 100 years old, they were still in remarkably good nick. They had obviously been well looked after.
I prefer the more rustic look. I scuffed the window frames up a bit with a hot air gun and scraper. Then followed by a coating of dark wax.
2. Next, print the bee and word templates for the stencils (see above for pdf downloads). I painted them on the back of the window. This means that the images need to be printed as a mirror image. Especially the text “Thyme after Thyme”.
If you go into the advance menu in your printer software, there will be a tick box to choose mirror image printing.
3. Next, make sure the glass panes are clean and dust free. Then tape the printed stencils to the front of your windows, so that you can see the words on the back of them.
I wanted to paint the back of the window. It took me a while to work out where I was placing my templates (I’m not very good at working back to front).
You don’t have to paint on the back. Painting on the front would be easier, but you won’t get such a smooth finish.
4. Then, using the printed template as a guide, I just painted over the words and bee on the glass pane. I used specialist glass paints. You can use acrylic paints, but I don’t think they give as nice a finish and will probably need a sealant on top.
Only two colors of paint were needed, black and yellow.
PART TWO: Making the tin can herb planters
1.. First, spray paint the tin can planters a creamy off white color. One coat will do.
2. Next, drill four small holes in the base of the cans. These holes are to allow for water drainage.
3. Next, carefully cut out six insects from your wrapping paper. You can allow for a small border around the legs. The background of the wrapping paper should just blend in with the tins.
There are hundreds of free vintage natural history images here that can be used to decorate your tin cans.
4. Then, stick one paper insect to the front of each can using PVA or mod podge glue.
5. Then seal the outside of the cans by covering them in outdoor Mod Podge. They can also be sealed by spraying them with an acrylic varnish instead.
6. Next, prepare the tin cans for the herbs. Place some gravel in the bottom of the cans. This is to provide a drainage layer before adding your soil and herbs.
PART THREE: Attaching your herb planters to the window.
Originally, I had the idea that I would attach the tin can planters to the window using magnets. I stuck six strong magnets to the bottom of the window frame. These magnets worked brilliantly with empty cans. However, when the cans were full of gravel and soil, they became too heavy and slipped down the magnets.
To solve this problem I just got a bit of old pallet wood and screwed it to the underside of the bottom of the window frame to create a little ledge to help support the tins.
If you use super strong magnets, you may not need the ledge. You could use the ledge without magnets, but I do find the magnets keep the herbs tins in place. They stop them from being blown off on the windy days.
As originally this was a sash window, I just replaced the existing sash cord with some new sash cord and used this to hang my window to the wall.
More Upcycle Ideas
You can find the tutorial for the Marimekko bench upcycle in the photo above here.
If you are looking for other planter ideas you should check out the mosaic wall planter I made from broken crockery or the Morrocaan pallet wall garden.
You could of course plant flowers instead of herbs in your tin cans. I’m sure there are loads of good songs with flowers in the title!
Other herb garden song pun suggestions are:
“I had the thyme of my life” – For the Dirty Dancing fans,
“Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”
I’m sure you can think of better ones, I’d love to hear them.
Since making this window herb planter, I have upcycled another two of the windows. One I repurposed into a cool Happy Hour cocktail window for the garden. The other I made it into a vintage mirror Christmas decoration for my mantle.
Other Upcycled Herb Planters
I love my fresh herbs and I have also made upcycled herb planters for indoors.
You can find many more clever garden upcycling ideas here.