Market umbrellas provide shade and a focal point for a patio or garden seating area. One clever way to avoid purchasing a separate umbrella stand is to make one that does double duty as a planter. Hide an ugly or merely serviceable base with an environmentally sensitive treatment -- and that bothersome hole in the patio table disappears under a circular planter. Use plastic materials for weatherproof umbrella planters.
Umbrella Anchor Planter
Make a stunning umbrella anchor in an afternoon and customise it for your outdoor decor. All it takes is an oversized planter or urn, some lava rock, a plastic pipe "sleeve" and potting soil. The decorative pot should be at least 15 inches tall to support the umbrella pole; taller is better. The urn or planter should be industrial grade plastic, resin, clay or fake stone for durability. Fill the pot with a layer of rock, centre the vertical pipe section in the middle, then layer concrete perforated by drainage holes and topsoil. Flowers and green plants finish off the mini-garden. The umbrella stand-planter works anywhere in the yard or on the patio. Its weight makes it very stable and the plants hide the umbrella sleeve even when you aren't using the umbrella.
Table Top and Base Matching Planters
A plastic planter for the table top is easy to put together for a few dollars if you can't find one in a garden store. Table top planters made of plastic fit around the patio umbrella pole and cover the hole in the centre of the table. They usually snap closed around the umbrella, making them easy to remove for replanting or cleaning. But a do-it-yourself version is a plastic chip bowl, available in local hardware or housewares stores. Buy a small bowl for the table and a large one to slip over the umbrella base. Melt or cut a hole in the bowl so it will slide over the umbrella pole and sit on the table. Fill with soil and plant flowers, or use a layer of river rocks to line the bowl and set small pots of herbs around the umbrella pole. Cut or melt a hole in the large bowl, slip it over the base and reinsert the umbrella pole. Plant the base cover to match the table garden.
Recycled Stand Planter
Ring an unattractive umbrella stand with flowering plants and ferns in a recycled custom planter you can reinvent every summer. Simply cut the tops off gallon-size plastic water jugs so they are all the same height and punch a few holes in the bottom of each one for drainage. Position your market umbrella in the garden and encircle the stand closely with the jugs. Fill jugs with a layer of gravel, a circle of cut screen and topsoil for the plants. Rope the jugs together with heavy twine and plant a profusion of wildflowers, vines and ferns in the jugs to hide them and the umbrella base. Plant ornamental grasses around the plastic jugs to further integrate the planter into the landscape. Because these plants drain directly from the plastic jugs into the ground, this umbrella stand planter is unsuitable for some patios. It may work on a stone or brick paver patio that drains quickly.