Why Adding Trash to Pots is a Good Idea

recyclable trash

In my last post, “Pots, Trash and Goodbyes“, I talked about how I bought some new glazed pots for my front entry.

You would expect that planting pots is pretty straight forward.  But, what many of you didn’t expect was the ‘trash’ that I put in the bottom of my containers.

recyclable trash

recyclable trash

You can see that the trash at the bottom of this pot consists of mostly recyclable trash such as milk cartons, soda and pasta bottles.

So why on earth would someone put trash in the bottom of a pot?

Here is a clue…

potting mix

Have you bought potting mix lately?

It is expensive AND many pots are so large, that plant’s roots don’t reach down to the bottom.

So, why waste all that expensive, unused soil at the bottom?

recyclable trash

Because this pot was to be filled with shallow-rooted annuals and perennials – I filled the bottom third of the pot with empty plastic containers.

I not only have saved myself money, but my pot also weighs a lot less then if I had filled the entire pot with soil.


If you are planting shrubs, trees or other deep-rooted plants, then you need a lot of soil for the roots to grow into – so, don’t use this trick for these types of plants.

The next time you plant containers, be sure to raid your recycle bin first for ‘trash’.

**You can also use foam packing peanuts in place of empty plastic containers.


Thank you all for your kind words of support as my daughter, Rachele, left for basic training yesterday.

We got a 1-minute phone call, telling us she was okay and that we would receive a letter in one week and a phone call in three.

My sister-in-law attended her swearing in ceremony in downtown Phoenix just before she boarded a plane for basic training.

She got her hair cut ahead of time

She got her hair cut ahead of time.

Rachele didn’t want her dad and I to go because she said it would be too hard for her not to be sad and cry.  So, I was happy that my sister-in-law, who worked nearby, was able to go and support her and take photos for us all to see.

We are all starting to write her letters and the ones that the kids wrote are so sweet and just break my heart because they miss her already.

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
6 replies
  1. David Cristiani
    David Cristiani says:

    Now I get it! Some photographers did the exact same here at my house when it was on a shoot with new pots they brought me. I may do that again…great weight and space saver. Great daughter pic, too. Exciting times!

  2. NellJean
    NellJean says:

    I use styrofoam packing from large cartons, broken into big pieces.

    I know you miss your daughter. We appreciate her. Her new haircut is precious.

  3. GumpyChump
    GumpyChump says:

    Great idea!! Your blog has inspired me to grow my own garden. It's been 6 months and I am surprised my plants are surviving. Thanks for all the tips!

  4. Wolfgang Werk
    Wolfgang Werk says:

    I just came across your blog while on another home and garden blog. I have been growing plants for 40 years and used to grow succulents professionally for 25 years.

    Regarding the trash in the bottom of the pot, why not use cheaper soil. Miracle Grow is expensive and there are much cheaper alternatives. Another option is to use your old pots turned upside down in the pot. I have a aversion to using trash to raise plants for beauty and especially plastic for raising plants to eat.

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