Eight Ideas with Tin Cans

How often do you find yourself recycling tin cans? Likely quite often, as so many foods are supplied this way. Luckily, they are very versatile and handy, and can be used to create all kinds of home and garden projects. Why not store up a supply of tin cans and get crafty? Here are a few easy ideas.

1. Lanterns

Lit tin can lanterns hanging in a tree - © GAP Photos

Lit tin can lanterns hanging in a tree – © GAP Photos

It is easy to safely make a hole in the side of a tin can with a nail and hammer. You can create all sorts of patterns, which will glow through the dark when a t-light candle is lit inside. Create a wire hook and hang your lanterns from tree branches, or place them on the corners of steps to light the way.

2. Unusual Borders and Surfaces

Hundreds of tin cans stacked and built to edge borders. All filled with plants and herbs. Tin bottoms and black pebbles combined as a decorated surface - © GAP Photos/Hanneke Reijbroek

Hundreds of tin cans stacked and built to edge borders. All filled with plants and herbs. Tin bottoms and black pebbles combined as a decorated surface – © GAP Photos/Hanneke Reijbroek

Here, large tin cans have been creatively used to create both the edge of a border, and decorative surface below it. They add a contrasting texture and colour to the garden. You can also use them to create multi-tiered planting.

3. Flower Vases

Aquilegia, Geranium, Alchemilla and Nepeta displayed in tin cans - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Aquilegia, Geranium, Alchemilla and Nepeta displayed in tin cans – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

The silver metal of these tin cans really complements the soft florals displayed in them and keeps the style casual, low-key and rustic. Tie them to fence posts or display them as centrepieces.

4. A Hanging Salad bar

Variety of lettuces hanging in alluminium cans on the side of a shed - © GAP Photos

Variety of lettuces hanging in alluminium cans on the side of a shed – © GAP Photos

Tin cans make quick and economical containers, especially as drainage holes can be so easily hammered into the bottom. Create a hanging salad bar and plant an assortment of lettuces in tin cans, hung up with jute string. This is suitable if you don’t have much space. You can even create a multi-story hanging salad bar but suspending the tin cans from each other.

5. Protective Caps on Stakes

Empty tin of Branston Baked Beans used as an eye protector on the top of a cane - © GAP Photos/Pat Tuson

Empty tin of Branston Baked Beans used as an eye protector on the top of a cane – © GAP Photos/Pat Tuson

It is important to think about health and safety in the garden. With their exposed, spikey ends, stakes can be hazardous. While you can buy plastic caps to safely cover the tops of stakes, empty tin cans make a far more economical and environmentally friendly option. They also add a quirky and decorative touch too.

6. Wildlife Shelters

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge Garden. Rusted alluminium cans used for insect hotels. Designer - Sean Murray. Sponsor - Royal Horticultural Society - © GAP Photos

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge Garden. Rusted alluminium cans used for insect hotels. Designer – Sean Murray. Sponsor – Royal Horticultural Society – © GAP Photos

Rusted tin cans look fantastic when stacked on top of each other. Here they serve as both a functional and decorative element. Filled with bamboo canes, they provide shelter for wildlife, as well as adding textual interest. This is an easy and fun way to repurpose tin cans and take care of the wildlife in your garden.

7. Containerised Herb Garden

Woman cutting Oreganum 'Country Cream' with scissors - © GAP Photos

Woman cutting Oreganum ‘Country Cream’ with scissors – © GAP Photos

Here a simple wooden trellis holds tin cans of herbs for harvesting. Using tin cans for all the herbs keeps the style uniform, and the trellis can be moved to the most suitable location.

8. Tin Can Sculpture

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge. Circular sculpture made from rusted old steel cans - © GAP Photos/Andrea Jones

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge. Circular sculpture made from rusted old steel cans – © GAP Photos/Andrea Jones

Sculptures can really add interest to a garden and provide form and structure all year round. Here, tin cans have been squashed and threaded into a loop to make this sculptural, contemporary piece.