The Genius Soda Can Potting Trick Your Plants (& Wallet) Will Thank You For

The average American drinks about 42.9 gallons of carbonated soft drinks every year, and the typical drink can holds about 12 ounces of liquid. This means that one person could easily consume as many as 457 cans of soda every year. Of course, these numbers don't account for people's consumption of other canned drinks like sparkling waters, coffees, teas, and alcoholic beverages. Needless to say, we produce a lot of waste from canned beverages, and while recycling is becoming more popular, there are still plenty of cans that end up in landfills. One genius way to reuse your empty drink cans is to incorporate them into your garden. Instead of filling an empty planter with rocks, sticks, or compost, create a base layer with crushed cans before adding your dirt.

Planters need something to help water drain and prevent root rot. Using crushed cans instead of rocks can save you from having to purchase rocks at the store or scavenge them from your yard. Plus, you'll be doing a good thing for the environment and giving your container plants some distinct advantages. Here's how you can reuse your cans with this budget-friendly planter hack.

Create aluminum filler pucks

To use them in your planters, gather up your aluminum drink cans and set them on a flat surface, such as a driveway. With sturdy shoes on your feet, step on the cans to crush them until they lay somewhat flat. Don't worry if your crushing skills aren't perfect; the cans won't be visible at the end of the hack. By flattening your cans, you've essentially turned them into little aluminum pucks. Lay the pucks at the bottom of your raised garden bed or container pot. You should only need to create a layer about two pucks deep, but you can add more cans if you'd like. In general, it's best to leave room for at least 8 inches of soil in a raised garden bed or potted container.

After you've laid out your crushed cans, you could apply soil immediately, but some of the soil may sink down between the cans over time. To prevent this, measure and cut out a layer of landscaping cloth to lay between the cans and your potting soil. The cloth barrier will allow water to flow and drain through the cans while keeping all of your soil in place. Finally, add your plants and give everything a good soak to settle in. 

Some benefits and concerns of aluminum cans

You could easily find a bag of drainage rocks for less than $10, but we love this hack because it's essentially free; you won't even have to drive to the store. If your household drinks soda like most do, you probably already have a bin of aluminum cans sitting around, so this is a creative way to repurpose those materials. Another benefit of this hack is that it's perfect for filling large planters. Rocks can make big planters significantly heavier and harder to move, but aluminum cans weigh practically nothing. By putting crushed cans in the bottom of your planters, you'll also prolong having to take out the trash or drop off your recycling.

Perhaps most importantly, using crushed cans for planter drainage saves a material that would've otherwise been wasted, especially if your household doesn't currently recycle. If you don't have any aluminum cans on hand, you can also try using crushed plastic bottles, tin cans, or milk jugs to get similar drainage results. One potential drawback, however, is that aluminum can degrade over time and leach into the soil, causing aluminum toxicity and potentially harming your plants. For this reason, it may be helpful to have a good barrier between your aluminum cans and the soil, such as a durable weed cloth. You may also want to replace the aluminum cans every year or when repotting houseplants.