Upcycle Your Cans Can you dig this DIY upcycle?

We love upcycling almost as much as we love gardening – and that’s like, allot! For this month’s DIY, Life is a Garden is inviting you to accept our eco-friendly, trash to treasure project, all about cans, creativity, and décor. If you also get that funny feeling whenever you throw away a can, that’s probably because: A – you care about the environment and just can’t bear the thought of a turtle choking on baked beans packaging, and B – like us, you can see the exciting, uncharted, open canvas of that baked beans tin that just screams “decorate me”.

Here’s a step by step to creating your upcycle can masterpiece.

You will need:

  • Some empty washed cans with a few holes made in the bottom (time to put that buying in bulk stage to good use)
  • String/twine/ribbon (natural fibre string or coloured string, depending on your vibe)
  • Some pebbles (store-bought or from the garden)
  • Moss (real moss available at your GCA Garden Centre or visit your local craft shop for fake moss sheets)
  • Arts and crafts accessories you have lying around
  • Super superglue or double-sided tape

How to decorate:

  • Start by thinking about which cans will be for outdoor and indoor decoration to determine which décor accessories would work best.
  • Have a look at all your goodies and think about the theme/colour scheme you’re going for to spice up your chosen area.
  • Use the superglue or double-sided tape to secure your string/twine/ribbon around the can.
  • If you are using pebbles or shells, pop them on too with some superglue.
  • Add a little texture to your can by tying a different piece of string/twine/ribbon around it. This will also help to keep your design together.

Décor tip: You could always decorate half of the can one way, and the rest with a different accessory. For example, try decorating the base of the can with pebbles or shells, and the top half with moss or twine. This will give you added texture and bonus points for creativity!


Plant picks:


  • For an easy to maintain, low light tolerant, and occasional neglect forgiver, we recommend the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia).
  • Vriesea varieties are a great choice if you’re looking for a colour-poppin’ plant with interesting foliage and texture.


  • Wild iris (Dietes grandiflora) is a lovely flower choice for a spot on the patio with sun or semi-shade.
  • The Mickey-mouse bush (Ochna serrulata) is a charming can contender and will flourish on your stoep in sun or semi-shade.

Upcycling cans is all the talk of the town and for good reason. There are infinite ways you could go about decorating cans to use as pot plants and other DIY projects too. We’d love to see how you turned your trash into treasure. Share your creations with us on our Facebook and Instagram pages and join the Life is a Garden community.


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