11 Creative Ways To Use A Laundry Basket Around Your Garden

Repurposing or upcycling everyday household items for new purposes has been popular for a long time, as it is a sustainable, resourceful, and often very creative process to give old things a new lease on life. One such item that seems to have endless options for upcycling is the humble laundry basket, whether that is a mesh pop-up hamper, a plastic basket, or wire-framed. With so many clever ways to repurpose your old laundry hamper around the house, these versatile baskets can also serve many new purposes in the garden!

The cost to start a garden from scratch can be high, especially if you plan on investing strictly in brand new gardening tools. This is why thinking creatively about how to find secondhand items or repurpose common household items for new tasks in the garden can help cut down startup and ongoing maintenance costs. With a little imagination and ingenuity, a basic home essential like the inexpensive laundry basket can be utilized in a many clever ways, from carrying harvested to vegetables to being used as a composting bin to planting strawberries, mushrooms, and potatoes. Varying in material, size, and type, laundry hampers can become multifaceted upcycled garden staples throughout your growing season.

1. Harvesting and garden tool basket

Perhaps the most straightforward use of your laundry basket is as a ... basket (surprise!), specifically for carrying and storing your fruits and veggies that you harvest from the garden. Using a laundry basket will also allow you to hose the fruits and veggies off directly in the hamper. In addition to your harvest, you could use a plastic laundry basket to haul around your dirty gardening tools while you work, again rinsing them right inside when you are done. The laundry hamper could double as storage for tools when not in use.

2. Insect netting

Have a mesh pop-up hamper laying around gathering dust? Bring it out to your garden, place it over a plant, and use garden stakes to secure it in place, creating an insect netting tent that protects your greenery. The open mesh allows airflow and moisture to come in, but shields it from insects and birds, while also providing a small amount of shade protection. For only a couple of dollars each, these hampers are a great way to safeguard your plants on a budget. A mesh laundry bag would also be a great alternative for covering your plants.

3. Strawberry planter

A tall plastic laundry hamper with larger holes is the ideal vessel for growing strawberries. By simply adding a hole at the bottom for drainage, lining it with a burlap sack, and filling it with soil, it is prepped and ready for your strawberry plants. Choosing periodic holes in the side of the laundry basket for planting, use scissors to cut slits in the burlap and insert the strawberry plant so it cascades out of the side of the hamper. You can also plant the top with other gorgeous flowers as a dramatic topper to brighten the garden.

4. Yard waste collector

Another great use for a mesh pop-up laundry hamper is to use it as a portable vessel for collecting yard waste as you work. Having a lightweight, portable mesh container at the ready for all of the weeds and dead leaves (while extra soil can fall out of the bottom) is extremely efficient and makes cleanup a cinch. When you are done, carry the laundry basket to your compost heap for disposal. Admittedly, this is perhaps not the most glamorous use for your hamper, but it sure is a handy one to streamline weeding and garden work!

5. Composting bin

Taking your yard waste game to the next level, why not utilize a plastic laundry basket with a lid as your home compost bin? Drill a few holes at the bottom for drainage. Then make your own DIY compost by layering in green (newly dead materials such as food scraps, fresh garden clippings, etc.) and brown materials (which have been dead longer like sticks, brown leaves, etc.) in a one to one ratio. The holes in the sides of the hamper are perfect for letting in airflow to break down the material into compost.

6. Vertical lettuce tower

If space is at a premium, grow heaps of lettuce vertically using a tall wire laundry basket with a small footprint. Line the hamper with food-safe plastic sheeting, making holes for drainage. Fill the laundry basket with soil, and cut slits in the bag through the holes in the side where you plan to put seedlings. Insert the lettuce plants into the slits and soil, finishing with other seedlings at the top. With so many spots to grow, this DIY wire hamper lettuce tower will have you harvesting your salads for weeks!

7. Colander for harvested produce

Make rinsing your harvested fruits and veggies a breeze by repurposing a plastic laundry basket as a colander. Fill a larger bucket halfway with water and place it near your garden. As you gather your produce, collect it in the laundry basket. When you are ready to wash your pickings, dunk the laundry basket into the larger bucket of water several times to get the produce moving around. When the fruits and veggies are rinsed, lift it out of the water, allowing excess water to drain back into the bucket.

8. Grow mushrooms

Another vegetable perfect for growing through the holes in a laundry basket is an oyster mushroom. Layer straw thoroughly saturated in water (let it soak for a couple of hours) with crumbled up oyster mushroom spawn into the laundry basket, continuing to alternate with thin layers until you have reached the top, ending with straw. Place it in a shaded, protected spot in your yard, watering every couple days. Within a few weeks, you will have mushroom growth through the holes in the laundry basket that is ready to harvest.

9. Wire plant cage

If you have an old wire laundry basket or one with a wire interior frame, repurpose it as a plant cage for supporting growing fruits and vegetables. Remove all material but the wire frame itself from your hamper and place over a climbing produce plant, using garden stakes to secure the wire frame to the ground for stability. This is a perfect setup for plants that need the added support of a trellis cage, such as tomatoes, zucchini, peas, or other vine crops that like to climb and grow fruit more effectively off the ground.

10. Potato planter

The other vegetable ideally suited for growing in a laundry basket is a potato. Using these tips on how to best start your seed potatoes, collect pieces of potatoes that have sprouted one or two eyes on each chunk. Then, grab your tall plastic laundry basket with large holes in the sides and some soil, as well as either hay, sawdust, or mulch. Beginning with your straw (or alternative) at the bottom, add a layer of soil and then potato eyes, repeating until you fill the planter. Enjoy your harvest in three to four months!

11. Greenhouse cover

Similar to using your inexpensive pop-up hamper as insect netting, take this idea a step further and add plastic sheeting to create a greenhouse cover to protect your plants from frost. Wrap the hamper in plastic sheeting and staple it to the mesh, cutting down excess, so you have a plastic-wrapped dome that surrounds but does not touch the plant (staking it down). Use your greenhouse cover when the temperature drops to protect greenery from frost damage, either in the early spring to get a jump start on your growing season or in the fall to lengthen it.