Upcycling Projects: Turning a Chassis Into a Planter – TechMikeNY
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Upcycling Projects: Turning a Chassis Into a Planter

Upcycling Projects: Turning a Chassis Into a Planter

As you may know, TechMike’s office is practically a jungle at this point. It’s also filled to the brim with server chassis. Amid the greenery and the gear, TechMike realized that you could totally turn an R720xd into a planter… so that’s exactly what happened. We put together a quick tutorial for how you can upcycle your old equipment; whether it’s because of forced obsolescence or your rack just got a bit too crowded, here's one way to give your old servers a fresh start.

Note: This is TechMike’s first time making a prototype of this planter. There may be plants all over the office, but this is new terrain. (Read: we’re very open to suggestions.)

You’ll Need...

  • An empty server chassis
  • Hot glue
  • Tape
  • Soil
  • Seeds
  • Work-surface cover (optional, recommended) 
  • Empty bin (optional)

How to Turn Your Chassis into a Planter


Prepare the Chassis

Start by clearing out the chassis you’re planning to transform. Take out everything, down to the motherboard and cables.

You’ll be sealing the bottom and pouring soil in there, so make sure you have something between the chassis and your work surface for easy cleanup. We had some paper plates around, so we tucked those under the chassis; you could also use a potting mat or table cover. (Or a piece of cardboard from the box your server came in. You still have that, don’t you.)

Seal the Bottom, but Leave Some Room for Drainage

Filling the Bottom of an R720xd Server Planter With Hot Glue, Leaving Room for Drainage

Bare server chassis, like this R720xd, have holes where the motherboard slots in. For your plants to grow, you want your soil to stay inside the chassis… not underneath it. But you also need to have room for your water to drain, just like any ordinary planter. To fill the holes while leaving room for drainage, we used hot glue.

Close off the Edges


Sealing a Chassis With Gorilla Tape R720xd Planter Transformation

NOTE: This footage was from TechMike’s original trial run, and you may notice that there’s already soil in the chassis. Sealing the edges after pouring the soil is possible, but we recommend doing this step prior to filling the chassis (for maximum efficiency and minimum mess).

Use a cover like Gorilla tape to close off the edges. You can absolutely take this as another opportunity to upcycle other parts (like an out-of-commission PSU), but if you do, make sure you firmly secure the equipment to the chassis to prevent soil movement down the road.

Fill the Garden with Soil

Filling A Chassis With Potting Soil R720xd Transformation

Now, you can get pouring. Or scooping. Fill up the chassis about 85% with a bed of soil. As you go, level out the soil to loosen chunks. (Pro gardening tip - making an even bed of soil will prevent water from collecting in muddy spots.)

Plant the Seeds


Planting Rosemary, Cilantro, and Mint in a Chassis

TechMike went with cilantro, rosemary, and mint, but you can put whatever you want in your garden. Make sure there's enough room between the seeds for them to sprout.

NOTE: after spreading out the seeds, add another layer of soil over the top. Otherwise, your new little sprouts won't have much to latch onto when they take root.

Water the Seeds, and Watch Them Grow!


Pouring Water on Computer Server Chassis Planter

Water, wait, and of course, maintain. You'll want to place your planter on something with a bit of space underneath for easy cleanup down the road. We went for an upside down storage bin.

Transforming your old equipment into a planter is just one of the many ways of keeping your homelab green. (Aside from buying refurbished servers, of course. 😉)


Got any ideas? Wanna show us your server farm? Comment below or shoot us an email at info@techmikeny.com.

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