Learn how to make an inexpensive container herb garden for your patio on a tight budget, plus how to make engraved wooden garden markers with a Cricut Maker to label each herb. Sponsored by Cricut
I am a chick that loves fresh herbs. I love them for cooking, for making air fresheners, and for plucking right off the stem for a snack or addition to my afternoon tea. In the past, I have had herbs growing in our vegetable garden, but I really hated walking all the way down to the garden just to get a piece of mint to pop in my tea. So I decided to plant a container herb garden on my deck right outside the kitchen for quick grab and go herb access.
But I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw how expensive non-plastic patio containers are. $20 a piece?? For five herbs that’s a hundred buckaroonies. Pass. I almost gave up on the idea altogether and was going to give in to the long walk down the stairs, down the hill, and all the way to the big garden until I had a lightbulb moment at Walmart. There was a huge galvanized metal beverage tub with handles in the kitchen aisle…for $15! I threw that baby in the cart and raced home to turn it into a portable patio herb garden on a super small budget. And I made the most adorable labels with my Cricut Maker to tell them apart. Here’s how I did it.
Supplies You Need To Recreate My Patio Herb Garden
For The Herb Garden
- Large Galvanized Metal Beverage Tub (I bought this one)
- Electric Drill (and a bit that can go through metal)
- Potting Soil For Vegetables
- Herbs Of Your Choice (I used five herbs, two of each, and they fit perfectly in my container)
For The Wooden Markers
- Cricut Maker or Maker 3 (this is the only Cricut machine that can cut wood)
- Cricut Knife Blade Tool
- Cricut Engraving Tool
- StrongGrip Mat
- Cricut Brayer (or rolling pin)
- (2) 12×12 Sheets Of Basswood (or three 12×8 Sheets if the 12×12 are out of stock)
- Blue Painter’s Tape (or masking tape)
- Cricut TrueControl Knife (or other sharp craft knife)
- Sanding Sponge Or Sandpaper
- Wood Stain (I used Tattered Angels Color Wash in French Roast from Hobby Lobby)
- Soft Paintbrush
- Shop Rags
How To Turn A Metal Beverage Tub Into An Herb Planter
This process is super easy, so I won’t spend a lot of time on the step-by-step process. I really like using the tub for the container because it’s cheap, but also because the handles make it easy for me to move around on the patio and bring inside on chilly nights to protect my plant babies. Here’s a quick rundown of how to do it.
- Flip the galvanized metal tub upside down and drill drainage holes using an electric drill and bits made for going through metal.
- Fill the tub halfway with soil.
- Plant your herbs inside the tub, then fill the rest of the way with more soil.
- Water well, until it drips out of the drainage holes.
How To Make Wooden Garden Markers With Cricut Maker
Now that your plant babies have room to spread their roots in their new home with all their other herby BFFs, let’s get to the fun part. Time to make some garden markers to label them all! I love a good stained wood sign, and I think they really elevate outdoor decor, especially when they’re paired near a green plant. So I took that rustic wooden sign look and designed these adorable garden stakes using the special tools compatible with Cricut Maker.
To start your project, you’ll need to do the following prep-work steps:
- Open up this project in Design Space. It’s the exact template I made for these stakes. Edit the text in each stake to say the names of the herbs you already planted in your galvanized bucket.
- Put your basswood sheet on a Cricut StrongGrip mat, secure it using a brayer or rolling pin, and tape all four edges using blue painter’s tape or masking tape.
- Gather your cutting materials (Cricut Knife Blade and housing, Cricut Engraving Tool and housing, Cricut TrueControl knife, and sand paper.
- If this is your first time using the knife tool with your Cricut Maker, you’ll be asked to calibrate your knife. To do this, put a sheet of printer paper on a LightGrip mat and follow the instructions on screen. (This is only needed if your computer prompts you to. If it doesn’t prompt you, you’ve already calibrated your knife.)
Cutting And Engraving Basswood With Cricut Maker
When you’re ready to start your project, you’ll be asked to choose your material. Basswood isn’t really meant to be used with the Cricut Engrave Tool, so you won’t have the option to choose it in the materials menu. The workaround is to choose the Tooling Leather 6.7oz option. This is the thickest available material in the list and it will work for basswood just the same.
After you’ve connected your Maker and choose the Tooling Leather 6.7oz option, you’ll be prompted to insert the engraving tool first. Once it has finished, you’ll be prompted to swap to the Cricut Knife Blade. *Do NOT remove your mat from your Maker or it won’t line up. Just leave it where it is, swap the blade, and click the “C” on your Maker to start cutting. The Maker will cut 16 passes, and it does take a while, so while it’s cutting you can gather your other materials for later.
Removing The Cut Basswood From StrongGrip Mat
Once your Maker is finished cutting, remove the mat from the machine and pull off the tape around the edges. Then turn the mat over so your basswood is flat on the table, and peel the mat away from it. Be very careful because if you bend the basswood, even just a little, it will split. Once it’s removed, look at the back to ensure that all the cut lines went all the way through. If they didn’t, use your TrueControl knife to carve the unfinished lines. This sometimes happens around the corners and some edges.
Sand And Smooth Engraved Words On The Basswood
After you have removed the cut garden markers from the basswood sheet, carefully sand around the engraved words and any sharp edges on the outline. Again, be very gentle because you can snap it in half if you’re not careful. I like to use a sanding sponge on basswood because it requires less pressure than regular sandpaper, and I won’t have to push as hard which could potentially break the wood.
How To Stain Basswood Garden Markers
Your engraved words may be pretty faint now that you’ve sanded away all the rough cuts, so let’s darken them up and protect the garden markers with some stain. I used a tinted color wash instead of an actual wood stain, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Just paint on the stain around the edges and front, then wipe away the excess in a sweeping motion. You’ll be left with a lighter color on the wood and a darker color inside the engraved words. Let it dry, then stain the back.
A few things to note:
The wood may start to bow in the middle when you stain one side, but it will flatten back out when you stain the other side. If it’s still curved, add a little more stain onto the side that is curved upward, smooth again with your rag or shop cloth, and hold it down flat with the cloth for a few seconds.
Don’t blot the rag around the words. I did that with mine and it made a darker outline around the words. It doesn’t look bad, but it does look a little uneven. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Just sweep the rag over the whole stake and don’t try to blot more stain into the words. (This is totally a “do as I say, not as I do” situation)
While basswood can handle some water, I remove the wooden markers each time I water the herbs to prolong their lifespan. Water can slightly warp them, so take a few seconds to pull them out before you give your herb babies a shower, then just pop them back in. If you forget or if it rains, your markers will be fine, but try to avoid it when you can.
Attach a pair of garden shears or kitchen scissors onto the side of the galvanized bucket so you can clip off herb leaves as you need them. You can use an S-Hook or a magnetic hook to keep them right on the side so they’re always ready for use.
More Ways To Rock This DIY Portable Patio Herb Garden
- Make mini-versions inside galvanized pails with only one herb inside. Add the garden marker and give it to Mom for Mother’s Day or your best friend for a housewarming gift.
- Use a smaller, more narrow galvanized bucket or window box to keep the herbs inside your kitchen. Store them in the window sill or on the counter.
- Make a big batch of wooden garden marker stakes and give them as gifts for Christmas.
- Experiment with different types of paints and stains to customize the markers.
- Use your herb garden as a table centerpiece for your next outdoor party. Guests can snip off sprigs of mint to add to their drinks right from the table.
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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cricut and I was compensated for sharing this tutorial, however all opinions and project ideas are my own.