We try to encourage birds to visit our garden, so we have four birdbaths. Three of them are easy to clean.
And then there’s this one.
The concave walls of its heavy bowl make it impossible to clean without removing it from its base. So, I didn’t clean it nearly as often as the other birdbaths. Maybe the birds knew it was dirty or they didn’t like the location but, for whatever reason, I’d never seen a bird use it.
Recently, I decided to repurpose it into a planter. My garden is still in need of its spring cleanup, so I was hoping that planting this birdbath with fresh, colorful pansies would add some cheer.
But turning a birdbath into a planter is not as easy as plopping in a few plants and adding soil. There are some things to consider.
Things To Consider When Converting A Birdbath Into A Planter
Unless they have a deep crack or other fault, birdbaths don’t drain. So, drainage would have to be added by drilling a hole in the bottom of the bowl. I wasn’t ready to take that irreversible step with this birdbath, so I would have to find a work-around.
Birdbaths are usually only a few inches deep so, even if drainage is added, most plants would become root-bound and dry out quickly in such a shallow container.
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The birdbath has a 12-inch width on the inside of the bowl. So I decided to find a 12-inch container to set into the birdbath. The birdbath itself would become the saucer for the container.
I could have just set any 12-inch plant container into the birdbath and called it good. But I wanted to do something a little more fun and natural-looking.
I started with a 12-inch wire hanging basket cage that I had been storing in my greenhouse for years.
Painting The Hanging Basket Cage
I painted the hanging basket cage green to minimize its appearance. This project would be all about making the cage recede as much as possible.
I used “Eden” Rust-Oleum satin spray paint because I had it on-hand.
I knew I wouldn’t be using the whole cage (more on that below) but I wasn’t sure yet just how much of it I was going to use. So I just painted the whole thing.
Cutting Down The Hanging Basket Cage
I finally decided that I would only be using the widest part of the cage. I used bolt cutters to cut the cage down to about a third of its original depth.
I’d never used bolt cutters before, but they made the job very easy.
Drilling Holes Into A 12-Inch Saucer
Then I found a 12-inch, high-walled plastic saucer. Happily, it fit snugly inside the birdbath.
I drilled drain holes into the bottom of the saucer. (The saucer I used is similar to this one except in color.)
I also drilled eight smaller holes at [more or less] evenly spaced locations near the upper rim. (The drill I used was similar to this one.)
Attaching The Wire Cage To The Saucer
Then, making use of those eight holes I’d drilled around the circumference of the saucer, I attached the wire cage to the saucer with green garden wire.
Lining The Cage With Sheet Moss
Then I lined the inside of the cage with sheet moss, trying my best to press the sheet moss tightly against the walls.
Lining the Inside With Landscape Fabric
It seemed like a good idea to add a little reinforcement to the sheet moss. I had a few scraps of lightweight landscape fabric, so I cut it to size and lined the back side of the sheet moss with it.
I added soil. I packed it tightly against the fabric on all sides. This was to force the sheet moss to sit firmly against the wire cage.
Now I had a “container” deep enough for planting the pansies.
Planting the Flowers
The cheerful pansies that I’d found at a local nursery were the inspiration for this project. And now it was finally time to plant them in their new container.
The new “planter” felt surprisingly solid and stable as I carried it to the birdbath and set it in.
(Before setting it in, I had cleaned and leveled the birdbath. To help with drainage, I also placed a 1/4 inch shim in the birdbath bowl just to allow a small gap between the birdbath and the bottom of the planter.)
Once in place, it bugged me a little that the rim of the plastic saucer was visible, so I circled the rim with dried Spanish moss.
The birdbath sits in the flower bed next to my front porch. So now, instead of seeing my perpetually messy birdbath, visitors will see this little scene.
This weird and whimsical planter should not be harder to maintain than any other garden container. It will really be fun once the pansies grow more and drape over the sides.
As you can see, we still have fall’s leaf mulch in the flowerbeds and dried seed heads still standing. It looks messy, but it provides food for the birds and places for beneficial insects to overwinter. Soon the daytime temps will be high enough for those beneficial insects to emerge, and then we can finally begin spring clean up.
More With Hanging Basket Cages
I’ll close this post with a little reminder that hanging basket cages can be used for all kinds of fun projects – like this hanging garden sphere.
Or this mound of baby tears.
So let your imagination be your guide.
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