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Activities / Children / Colorado Livin' / Creative Corner

Get Tipsy Turvy In The Garden With This Quick And Easy Project!

A good portion of my garage is filled with pots – terracotta, plastic, wood, enameled, painted. It seems I enjoy collecting gardening pots yet many a year goes by that I don’t use them. This year I was inspired to get creative with my collection of pots and overcome several reasons why I haven’t used them.

A lone pot sitting on a deck can add a splash of color but really isn’t very exciting. Several pots lined along the deck brings up the interest but I find that I appreciate them more if the height levels vary. In the past, I’ve used upturned pots to lift other pots, cinder blocks, a salvaged faux Greek pillar. All these work very well but, sigh, they’ve all been done many times before. I needed a new design. 

Summer is blazing hot here in Colorado and lone little pots on the deck dry out quick. It’s not unusual to have to water terracotta, or other material, pots two or three times a day. If watering is missed, the plants may end up in a sorry wilted pile from which they never recover. 

My daughter, Kaitlyn, and I searched the wonderful web for ideas. We came across with instructions to make a Tipsy Pot tower. Angels sang, golden light flooded my workspace. That’s just the project those pots were made for.

A tower of pots provide that height I so enjoy, vertical gardening is captivating. The tower design is a great water saver, a positive application of the trickle down theory. 


  • ½ inch pipe several feet long – must go 2-3 feet, or more depending how many pots in the tower into the ground or a tall pot
  • Terracotta pots of varying sizes – dry fit the tower before adding dirt to determine order
  • Potting soil
  • Plants – anything goes here, alternate trailing and non-trailing, try the same plant in different colors
  • Trowel and gloves are helpful

Rebar seems to be the metal of choice on most websites and they come in an affordable variety of lengths at any hardware store. 

Since my garage is the resting site for all the things we don’t want in the house, I was able to find a 4 foot, ½ inch metal pipe just laying around doing nothing. Bingo. There’s no shortage of unused pots, soil, and fertilizer in the garage, so in no time I was in business.

Sitting on my deck is a gorgeous enamel pot that was a father’s day present to my husband some years back. It was looking pretty sad with just a lame pile of dirt inside completely devoid of plant life. My site was determined. 

Moving the pot to the right allows for some protection from child and dog traffic – that’s Junebug in the right of the picture waiting for me to throw her ball. The new placement also provides more shade from the maple tree and, I hope, protection from rain and hail. 

The lame soil in the big blue pot was spruced up with some peat moss and fresh top soil then I stuck in the four foot pole. The blue pot is 15 inches tall and the pots I chose for the tower are on the small side. 

With a collection of pots in descending heights, I tested out a stack of them to verify the strength of the pipe as well as the visual appeal. We counted out the pots and determined we wanted a some trailing and non-trailing plants in our creation. Off to the hardware store! 

We chose a geranium with variegated leaves for an interesting anchor plant in the blue pot. Kait loves petunias so we found purple standard petunias, a pink and white standard, and a red Wave trailing petunia. I spotted a trailing verbena that I thought would look great in the big blue pot.

Back at home, we mixed up more potting soil and started building. Kait helped to position the pots, she filled the dirt and planted the flowers too – for the first pot. Then she went off to play with the hose and spray both herself and the dog, the dog was appreciative. I finished it off from there, though Kait would flit back in time to direct which flowers went in which pot. 

I filled the pots with a bit too much soil, not realizing how much space was needed for water to pool given the angle for each pot. Some adjustments were made. I finished off each pot with a smattering of mulch pilfered from my neighbor last fall after they completed some major tree trimming and chipping. The mulch helps keep the water in the pot while it settles into the soil. 

Watering slowly is the key to success for ongoing maintenance of a tipsy tower, let the water settle into each pot. 

Oh the possibilities of this design! So many pots, so many uses! We bought enough plants to create a second tipsy tower however we made it less tipsy. Back in the early 1990’s, my husband I bought this porcelain sink for $10 at an estate sale. It’s been a fantastic flower pot for over 20 years. It’s the perfect place for a tower. 

The location and the low height of the sink calls for a less tipsy design. Stacking serves the purpose of providing greater stability and maximizes viewing given the location and traffic flow near the sink. 

Building the second tower was as easy as the first. Each tower took about an hour and half to build, factoring in breaks to throw the ball to Junebug. 

The tipsy tower can be incorporated into most any landscape design and is wonderful space saver for the patio and apartment gardener. Flower options are nearly limitless for the tower; try some herbs in a vertical tipsy tower; a tower of greens such as lettuce, spinach and kale would be spectacular. 

My twin towers of festive, floral beauty are delightful. I can even see the blue pot tower from my kitchen window. My mind is racing with ideas for different towers utilizing all my gardening pots. I’m in love with the tipsy tower!


Heather Ruch
Author: Heather Ruch

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