Explore how the texture and presence of cor-ten achieves a modern, rustic look.

Use the left and right arrows to change images. For a better look, you can pause the slideshow by clicking the button in the bottom right corner.
The planters you see in the photos were built by our friend Dan Taylor of Taylor Iron Works. You can visit his website here.

There is a certain allure to aging, earthy elements like rusted metal and weathered wood that appeals to something deeply primal in all of us. The contemporary COR-TEN® steel planters you see in this elegant space develop a rich patina as they age, and are stunning when softened with lavish plants.

Geometric, minimal, and earthy all at once, this look is incredibly versatile. Use these containers to organize your outdoor living space, then fill them with low maintenance varieties so you will have plenty of time to relax and enjoy your new view.

  • Spray Bottle
  • Safety Goggles
  • Small Broom
  • Metal Brush
  • Morton Salt
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Hydrogen Peroxide

With the proper care, Cor-Ten steel can last a lifetime. All it takes is a little elbow grease and upkeep. Below you’ll find a simple step-by-step maintenance regimen that will keep your planters looking picture-perfect.

Empty and Prep Your Container

Weather will do what it does to outdoor planters, especially in the winter, but the worn surface of

Cor-Ten is easily scrubbed away with a metal brush. Empty your container and place it on its side to make cleaning the surface easy.

Scrub Away Weathered Material

Using a moderate amount of pressure, scrub away the oxidized surface layer with a metal brush. Work in one direction only to avoid cross-hatching patterns. You’ll begin to see the sub-layer underneath.

Repeat On All Sides

Scrub all the sides of your container to achieve a uniform finish.

Sweep Away Residue

Clean off the loosened residue to prepare the container for the spray-down.

Hydrogen Peroxide + Salt + Vinegar Spray

Mix 16 oz. of hydrogen peroxide (easy to purchase at a local drug store) with 2 oz. of vinegar and 1/2 tbsp. of salt in a spray bottle. Apply the spray to all the sides of the container. This will encourage the steel to rust more rapidly and maintain its signature look.

Finished Look

Once the container surfaces have been evenly coated with the spray, it is ready to put back in place. Position the finished container out in the elements such as on a patio to weather. The new rusted patina will form in a matter of days.

Back to 2017 Gardener’s Idea Book