DIY Garden in a Cardboard Box

Published: 03/29/2023

So, you’re interested in gardening and doing it in a cardboard box feels like a DIY you can tackle. Good for you. You can! And we applaud you for trying!

Our Earth Month bundle box is exactly what you need to start with: a celebration of our planet and an invitation to get down and dirty with Mother Nature. Whether you have 5 acres or a 5-foot fire escape, you can have a garden. Sure, what you can grow will depend on the amount of direct sunlight the space gets, but there are plenty of options for everyone.

And if you’re leery at all, consider the many benefits:

  • Gardening encourages kids to eat healthier,
  • Promotes STEM learning,
  • Improves focus and memory, AND
  • Positively impacts mood & psychological wellbeing.

Not to mention the fact that it connects people to our planet – which makes us more likely to appreciate and protect it. Who knew a little bit of dirt and seeds could have such a big impact?

It’s not exactly easy-peasy, but it’s super-duper worth it. And no matter what happens, it’s a fun and educational activity to do with your kiddo! Also, if you try it now and share it on social media, you’ll be entered to win 6 months of Hello Bello diapers (ARV: $420)! (Hop over to our Instagram to learn more about the giveaway!

Here are 5 Steps to Create a DIY Garden in a Cardboard Box


#1 - Plan Your Placement & Plants

Figure out where your box garden is going to go and consider the amount of sunlight it’ll get so you know what plants to consider.

If the box is going to be outside, on the ground (and eventually in the ground), you have a lot of options.

If the garden box is going to be the garden from beginning to end, your options are more limited. Plants you can grow to maturity in a cardboard box have to be fast growing because the lifespan of your cardboard box is around 2-3 months.

Here are some ideas for fast-growing plants that are pretty adaptable to most sunlight situations –and they’re also edible (which can encourage your kids to eat healthier!): herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro), leafy greens (lettuce, spinach), sugar snap peas, green beans, and cherry tomatoes.

#2 - Set the Stage

You’ve chosen a location, so now it’s time to make any necessary preparations. If it’s outside on the ground, it doesn’t take much. Just know that wherever you place it, any plants underneath it will likely die (making it great for a patch of invasive weeds!).

If it’s inside – or even on a deck – put something underneath the box that will capture excess moisture (e.g. a boot tray or shallow plastic tub).

#3 - Add Soil & Seeds (or Seedlings)

Fill the box with lightweight potting soil within a few inches of the top and tap the box to settle the soil. Plant seeds or seedlings in the box according to the package directions. Follow the plant spacing advice on the package to decide how many plants to place in the box.

#4 - Water as Needed

Water the plants in your new garden to keep the soil evenly moist. Remember to follow watering guidelines for the specific plants you choose. Though cardboard gets wet when you water the soil, the porous, fibrous material dries out quickly, so you might need to water more frequently than with plastic or ceramic containers.

#5 - Bolster it or Bury it

If the box starts to break down and collapse before the end of your “growing season,” double-up by placing it into a new box or container.

If your seedlings are thriving, you can also just plop the whole thing, box and all (remove any tape), into a hole in the ground. It’s true! You can put cardboard boxes directly in the soil, since they will decompose with the help of bacteria and worms. After they're broken down, the cardboard will provide food and organic material for plants. 

NOTE: The ink on some boxes can contain heavy metals and are not suitable for gardens. Our inks are non-toxic and allergen-free!

Remember, if anything doesn’t work out, it’s OKAY. Growing plants is a try-try again learning experience, but it pays off! And, in addition to all of the aforementioned benefits of gardening, the failures and try-agains are another invaluable learning experience for kids.

NOTE: Creating a cardboard box garden involves dirt, water, and decomposing cardboard. Anyone attempting this should be thoughtful about placement (to protect surfaces from damage and to prevent young children and pets from getting into it), maintenance (due to uncertainties if left unattended), and choice of seeds/seedlings.