Operation: Planter Rescue

Many things in life are temporary by nature.  Fresh food spoils, newspapers become irrelevant, and cardboard boxes weaken with use.  For these things, we do our best to take only what we need, and to recycle them into the best possible second life.  But other things were meant to last.  What do we do when one of those things breaks?  Too often, they’re thrown out with the trash or the recycling waste.  New things replace them, packaged in plastic and shipped from overseas.  But what of our old things?  Could they be repaired or re-purposed?  Could they be given a second chance to fulfill their potential?  Many times they can be, and it’s easier than you might think!

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These two pieces used to be welded into one piece. The whole planter is useless unless they can be re-attached!

Repairing things does require effort.  But think about the benefits: reducing waste and your carbon footprint, supporting skilled local tradespeople, learning new skills, saving money, rescuing your favorite items, and the satisfaction of an afternoon well-spent.  I try to repair everything I can, from suitcases to garden hoses to shoes to bicycles.  I do some things myself, and I hire people with special skills and equipment to do the tasks deemed beyond my capabilities.  Another opportunity to choose repair over replacement came this spring, when I was setting up my display of planters for the season.  My favorite metal planter had broken in our most recent move, and it was unusable in its current state.  Rust had taken hold, and the central pole had broken free of an important welded joint.  This was a piece I had really sought after.  I had looked in all the garden catalogs and visited every garden and home store in search of the perfect three tiered planter.  When I found this, I thought I would have it forever.  Metal things are supposed to last, right?

I started by disassembling the three tiers as best as I could.  I sanded all the pieces with coarse sand paper, careful to remove all the rust.  I hired a local welder (I am so lucky to have a skilled welder in my family, who did this for free!!) to re-attach the joint, and applied a new coat of paint.  I’d say “good as new”, but I think it looks even better than new!

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The three pieces disassembled. The middle piece has been sanded, and the other two were sanded shortly after.
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Rust!  I sanded most of that away after taking this photo.  The rest will be handled by anti-rust paint.  You can see how the severed disc mounts to the bottom here, and why welding was the only way to provide enough stability for the planter.
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Re-attached!

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I painted each piece individually with anti-rust primer, and then with a coat of copper colored spray paint.  I hope my thorough paint job will protect this planter from future corrosion, but I’ll give it a quick inspection each year and touch up the paint if necessary.  I still hope to get a lifetime of use out of this piece.

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