Upcycling an Old Sandbox Into a Kid’s Garden


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We, like many families, had one of those plastic turtle sandboxes.  It was a gift from a friend of mine and Miss O loved it for years.  But, like most toys, she has most definitely outgrown it.  A couple of years ago we started making a play area for Miss O in the corner of our yard, complete with 4′ x 4′ DIY sandbox, but we kept the turtle because she was still playing with it.

However the time has come to say goodbye to our favorite turtle… or has it?

Do you have an old plastic sandbox lying around that your kids have outgrown? Don't toss it. Upcycle it into an adorable kid's garden!

I don’t like throwing things away that can be reused or repurposed (you may have noticed), so I started thinking of what we could do with it.

Then the light bulb went off.

A garden!

I asked Miss O if she liked the idea of turning her turtle into her very own garden and she was sooooo not happy with that idea.  5-year-olds aren’t known for their love of change.  I’ll admit I was bummed.  It was such a good idea!  But it’s her turtle and her decision.

Luckily, she changed her mind – which I found out because her teacher told me what a wonderful idea it was to use her turtle for a garden – so I started making plans.

It’s a remarkably easy upcycle to do, so even if you’re not handy at all you can totally do this.

Upcycling an Old Sandbox Into a Kid's Garden from creatingmyhappiness.com

First you’ll need to dump out any leftover sand.  Miss O was fond of throwing the sand out of the sandbox, so this was a pretty easy step for me.  I just dragged Mr. Turtle down to the big sandbox and flipped it over to empty it out.  Then I gave it a good rinse with the hose.  There’s no need to go crazy here.  You’re just going to fill it up with dirt again.

Upcycling an Old Sandbox Into a Kid's Garden from creatingmyhappiness.com

Upcycling an Old Sandbox Into a Kid's Garden from creatingmyhappiness.com

You’ll need to drill some holes in the bottom, so flip the turtle over and use a medium-sized drill bit to put holes in the bottom.  Then flip him back over and drill holes in the ring around the sandbox (if you have one).

Upcycling an Old Sandbox Into a Kid's Garden from creatingmyhappiness.com

In the outer ring of Mr. Turtle there was a large hole.  It originally came with a plug – apparently that ring was supposed to hold water – but that’s long gone.  My solution was simply to use a cork.  The previous owners left several bottles of champagne in the wine rack, so I popped one open and dumped out the champagne (it was NOT good), and the cork fit perfectly.  If you don’t have a champagne cork lying around ask a friend or, better yet, invite some friends over for mimosas!

Upcycling an Old Sandbox Into a Kid's Garden from creatingmyhappiness.com

The next part is easy, just fill the turtle with dirt, and plant!  It took exactly 3 40-lb bags of top soil to fill.  I could have used potting soil, but top soil is what I had on hand and, since it’s her first garden, spending less money is key.

For more info on how we got her plants started from seed, check out this post.

Upcycling an Old Sandbox Into a Kid's Garden from creatingmyhappiness.com

We added a little decoration to make it look a little more garden-like while we wait for the plants to grow.  She loves this little butterfly – and it’s easier to take care of than the plants.

Upcycling an Old Sandbox Into a Kid's Garden from creatingmyhappiness.com

So far the garden is just sprouts, but I’m looking forward to the day it’s alive with blossoms.

Do you have an old plastic sandbox lying around that your kids have outgrown? Don't toss it. Upcycle it into an adorable kid's garden!

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