Raising up a flower pot and avoiding a heavy planter
This is just a simple thing, but I did run into some trouble so I thought I would share it with you and perhaps save someone else from the same mistakes.
The problem: a small pot of flowers we want to raise up. We could transplant them to a bigger pot, but these sit in our driveway and need to be removed in winter. Filling a big planter with dirt makes it very heavy. We have done it that way in the past, but the older I get, the less I want to haul around heavy planters.
Other things I tried
I tried the idea of filling the bottom of the planter with bubble wrap and adding enough dirt on top for the flowers. This does lessen the weight, but now the planter was top heavy. It didn't take a lot of wind to knock the whole thing over. Begonias break easily; it is not good to dump them on the ground like that.
I could add scrap metal to the bottom, but that just adds back weight and it also rusts and that can run out and stain the driveway. I needed a better solution.
I took two small pots and taped them together as shown here. I drilled holes in the bottom of both so that water can drain thriugh. I then put the assembly into the large planter. The Begonia pot could now sit inside the top pot, but it wasn't stable. I needed something to hold everything in place permanently. Because this is exposed to water, I knew the tape would not last.
I have used spray foam insulation to fill cracks and holes around the house. It can be a little messy because it is sticky and expands as it sets, but it is wonderful for filling spaces that are not visible. It runs about $5.00 a can; I bought two cans for this project.
You do have to be careful about the expansion. This foam comes in low expansion and high expansion versions. When filling up a space like this, you need to stop before you reach what you ultimately want. The foam keeps expanding overnight - you can't see it very well in these pictures, but the foam gained more than an inch in height overnight. That was with the low expansion type.
This holds the interior pots firmly in place with a lightweight and waterproof filling. I had carefully leveled the interior pots before using the foam, but I forgot about the force the expanding foam would generate. When I looked at the results in the morning, the interior pots were no longer level. I should have glued or taped them in place.
Luckily, I had also forgotten that our driveway slants away from the garage. The interior pots being unlevel almost perfectly matches the driveway slant, so I accidentally ended up very close to exactly what I need.
What I should have done is leveled the interior pots with the big planter sitting where it would finally be placed. Then I should have glued or duct taped the interior pots to prevent the expanding foam from shifting them around. If I were a perfectionist I would rip it all out and redo it to get the slant exactly right, but it is close enough for me.
We now have a stable, reusable planter that is lightweight and adaptable. The small Begonia pot fits nicely into the interior pot or we could transplant to that without ending up too top heavy. We are happy and the Begonia is less likely to suffer another spill.
08/01/2010 Anthony P. Lawrence