diy projects, home, succulents

DIY: Vintage Succulent Toolbox

succulent toolbox

Around this time last year, I decided to turn one of our vintage toolboxes into a little succulent garden. I was so proud of myself – the succulents survived (and thrived!) all summer and through the fall. However, since it was a cold and windy winter, not all of our plants made it. This past weekend I decided to refresh the toolbox, and I photographed the process so I could post a DIY for you!

Now I know not everyone may have access to a vintage toolbox. No worries! This tutorial can work with any container, pot, or box that can accommodate plants.

Materials Needed:

  • Vintage Toolbox (or plant box)
  • Drill
  • Liner: pebbles, gravel, stones or clay brick pieces
  • Potting Soil (they make specific soil for succulents, however, it’s not necessary (per the gardening expert at my local hardware store) – just make sure to use a loose, light, quick-drying potting soil)
  • Selection of succulents

succulent toolbox

Step 1: First, go out and purchase your succulents. Each container will have the pertinent details for planting, including the necessary light and temperature needed for the plants to survive. After I had selected a variety of plants, I asked the gardening expert which plants would work best in my toolbox. He was very helpful and categorized my selection into essentially “indoor” and “outdoor” plants, pertaining to the plants in an environment year-round. The “indoor” plants would do just fine outdoors in the warmer months, but wouldn’t survive during the winter.

succulent options


Step 2: Make sure your box has a couple of drainage holes for the excess water. Using a drill, I was easily able to make my holes in the bottom of toolbox. This step is essential in the potting process, as it will allow the soil to dry quickly.

Step 3: Then, select a liner to fill the bottom of your box. This step is also key, as it will assist with the drainage, keeping the roots of the succulents dry.

succulent toolbox garden

Step 4: When you’re ready to pot your plants, first lay down your liner, then your soil. Make sure to not pack the soil in too tight, to keep it porous. Leave about 3″ at the top for your succulents.


Step 5: Pot your succulents into your box, leaving space in between the plants for growth.

succulent toolbox

Step 6: Once you’ve finished potting your plants, water lightly, and set out your succulent toolbox in sunlight.

I had initially planned to just go with the “outdoor” plants in the toolbox, but as I was arranging them I had the urge to include the silver dollar jade succulents to add height. However I planted it on the far right side, so that I will be able to easily remove the plant, without damaging the other plants, once winter comes.

succulent toolbox

I potted the plants that weren’t able to fit in the toolbox into individual pots, including my favorite “indoor” plant, the Echeveria succulent (small pot), so that I will be able to just pick it up and move it inside once it gets cold out.

succulent garden
echeveria fleur blanc

Like most Brooklyn apartments, we don’t get to experience the luxury of a garden…or even a backyard, so the fire escape is our only spot for our outdoor plants. But now, it sure looks pretty and really beautifies the view out our kitchen window.

succulent toolbox

  1. thelittleleaf

    April 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I love this! Such a beautiful rustic DIY. The colours of the vintage toolbox are so perfect for that little garden.

  2. stardustcoyote

    April 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I love it!! Totally making these this summer with my niece and nephew.. they asked me to help them plant cactus gardens!

  3. Judy MacQueen

    February 11, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Great composition/design. Thanks for the tips.
    I’m going to try four toolboxes this weekend but am doing outdoor, blooming peach colored geraniums, silver foliage plants and decorative cabbage. Will try to send photos when complete….

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