Upcycling An Ugly Plastic Box

A few days ago, I was looking for somewhere, anywhere, in my crowded garden to plant a couple of squash seedlings that I’d started in my greenhouse.   But my planting beds were already so crowded that the only space left for the seedlings was along the driveway fence line.

A Place In The Sun – But With A Problem

A while ago, Chris had cut back most of the bamboo growing along the fence line.  But the roots remain – in a dense mat that makes it impossible to plant anything.  And adding a soil mount for the seedlings, so close to the driveway, would have been messy.

So they would need to be in a container – preferably something wide, but not too high, so they could safely spill over the sides and creep along the ground.

I didn’t have a container like that, so I started looking for a box – something cute since we would be seeing it every day.  But the only thing I could find was a plastic garbage box – an old, extra box that our trash collectors didn’t want to take back.

It would work, but I would have to dress it up!


Putting Lipstick On A Pig

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

First of all, the box needed drainage.  Chris drilled five drain holes in the bottom.


Now I just needed to find a way to conceal its ugliness.  I remembered the used burlap coffee sacks that my Mom had purchased at a local plant nursery.  She’d given me a few of them.


Yes, one of these sacks would do nicely.



Wanting to save the more attractive sacks for other projects, I chose one with simple bold lettering.

Burlap coffee sack


The bag had some interesting woven seams.

Burlap coffee sack


Sadly, I would need to remove most of the seams to make the fabric fit around the box.  But I did keep one nice woven seam intact.

I cut the fabric to roughly the size I needed, leaving a generous amount of excess fabric so that I could position the graphic lettering exactly where I wanted it to go.  (A few leftover coffee beans fell out when I did this.)

Projects using burlap


Then, I just wrapped the burlap around the box and pinned everything for sewing.  I pinned the burlap so that it would wrap very snugly around the top of the box, but I wanted the bottom to look a bit slouchy – like a burlap sack.



On the bottom, I gathered and stitched the fabric at each corner.

Burlap coffee sack


The fabric would wrap around the bottom of the box by a couple of inches on each side.

Why didn’t I just cover the entire bottom with burlap?  Because dirty water draining from the box would soil the burlap.

I hemmed the top edge of the burlap wrap just to keep it from unraveling, and then I folded the burlap over at the top of the box.  Since I had sewn the top to fit snugly, this fold-over is all that is needed to keep the fabric from sliding down.

projects using burlap


To make the look more interesting, I positioned the lettering to read vertically instead of horizontally.

The lettering is running in a straight line vertically, but I must confess that I was not very careful about making sure that the cuts and seams were straight.  This is no doubt the most slapped-together, slipshod sewing project ever to emerge from my sewing room.  But since it’s supposed to look like a slouchy burlap sack, that doesn’t even matter.


The Result

The squash seedlings look happy in their new home.

Burlap coffee sack


And the burlap doesn’t just sit there looking pretty:  It will also help to shield the black plastic from the hot summer sun – hopefully keeping the soil and plant roots from overheating.

The one woven seam that I saved helps to carry off the “slouchy sack” look.

Burlap coffee sack


But how will the burlap look once it’s been hit by weather?  I found out almost immediately.  The very night after I put the container in the garden, rain and wind kicked up.

The next morning, the rain had stopped and the burlap was drying quickly.

Projects using burlap


Later that day, when the sun came out, the plants and the burlap had made a complete recovery.

Burlap coffee sack


But I’m not kidding myself:  I’m sure that, by the end of the season, the burlap wrap will be looking very rustic.

More Burlap Projects to Come

If you saw my recent post, where I transformed a burlap coffee sack into a cushion cover, you probably think I’ve become a one-trick pony.

It’s just that burlap can serve so many purposes – and even solve problems like the one I had with these squash seedlings – or when I needed inexpensive light-duty window shades for my greenhouse.

projects using burlap


So you’ll probably be seeing more burlap projects from me as I work through those wonderful bags that Mom gave me.

Burlap Coffee Sacks

Burlap coffee sacks are affordable and fun.  A huge selection of burlap sacks, and the crafts made using them, are currently available on Etsy.

I especially love the selection at The Burlap Farm By Kris.


Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel








16 Replies to “Upcycling An Ugly Plastic Box”

    1. Thanks so much Kris! The plants are getting bigger already and seem very happy in their plastic box – so far! Hope you have a wonderful week.

  1. Coffee sacks are so nice for upcycling, especially for outdoor use. They make me think of being away somewhere warm and wonderful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.