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Galvanized WashTubs In My Cottage Garden

14 years ago

About 15 years ago I wanted to create a display using containers. I didn't want to be constantly watering and I wanted something that was long lasting. I liked wooden barrels but I had to replace them every few years because they rotted out on the bottom. I saw these 17 gallon galvanized wash tubs at my local farm store, and thought that I would give them a try.

Holes were punched in the bottom for drainage. I spray painted them with one coat of primer and two coats of paint specifically designed to be used on metal.


I have used them over and over through the years and they have never had to be repainted. I always set them on rocks or bricks to keep the bottoms from sitting on wet ground. The handles make it easy for two people to move the tubs around the garden. I use a soiless medium to keep them light weight. These tubs sit out in the sun all day, and the plants have never suffered from the heat.

The owner of this shop has had tubs on her front porch for years. She left them unpainted but added wooden legs. This is her spring planting.

After the spring plants fade she replants with summer flowers. The boxwood is stationary throughout the year.

I leave them outside all year. In November I insert stems of all types of evergreens into the soil, and they look fresh until they're removed for early spring planting. Flee markets and garage sales are great places to find old wash tubs, and if they have a few holes on the bottom, that's better still.

Comments (17)

  • MollyDog
    14 years ago

    What a great creative idea.

  • midnightsmum (Z4, ON)
    14 years ago

    Now that's a great idea! Much longer lasting than terracotta, as well. I shall start looking for them, before the rest of you snap them up!!!!


  • Thyme2dig NH Zone 5
    14 years ago

    That is so neat! And what a great way to add some really fun colors to the garden. Thanks for sharing.

  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)
    14 years ago

    What a terrific idea! Wonder what the manufacturer will think when there is a run on these tubs!

  • kiddo_1
    14 years ago

    Absolutely charming! And I love the way you stack them - adds some height under the windows. Thanks for posting the pics. :-D

  • christinmk z5b eastern WA
    14 years ago

    I love it when people post their clever garden ideas! This is wonderful. Love the pastel colors you used.

    I have an old BBQ bucket that I use as a planter. I was just thinking how I wanted to get similar planters to put in the front yard...

    Your garden is beautiful! The pea gravel path, the little stone wall, the wonderful plant textures...could you maybe post more pictures your garden sometime? I know everyone else would love to see them too.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • gldno1
    14 years ago

    I like them! What a great if it catches on and there's a big demand from gardeners, just watch the price go up! Better grab them fast.

    I like both unpainted and painted.

  • PRO
    Nell Jean
    14 years ago

    Some Texas Gardeners are using galvanized stock tanks for water features in their gardens. Galvanized tubs used to be fairly inexpensive, but they've gone up in price the past few years. Maybe the manufacturers knew they were catching on!


  • DYH
    14 years ago

    Those are great! I love the painted colors! The legs on those others are so perfect, too.

    As Nell mentions, stock tanks are popular. I priced a few sizes recently and was stunned over today's price versus the days when I was raising horses!


  • token28001
    14 years ago

    I went looking for one a couple years ago. I had planned to use it as a small water feature on a patio. I couldn't justify the expense and settled on some half price pottery. I'd still love to have one here at this house. But the prices...sheesh. Those are beautiful. I need to do more container gardens.

  • girlgroupgirl
    14 years ago

    CUTE! I have a stash of wash tubs about this size, all donated to my garden! I plan to use galvi feed and/or stock tanks for raised beds along my patio eventually (the long, narrow types) - to help drainage but also to hold moisture, we plan to use them as raised beds by removing the bottoms so they sit directly on the soil - this will help me water them less!
    Your tubs are beautiful herblady.

  • ianna
    14 years ago

    They are nice. I did have galvanized tubs as planters before but you should know that during winter, if you don't empty them out and they freeze, the water expands and causes the tub to break it seams. In my case, it broke the bottom off completely.

  • FlowerLady6
    14 years ago

    Wonderful, colorful idea.


  • tammyinwv
    14 years ago

    I read the headline of this post after it was made, but didnt read the post. Figured "Naaa..." too tacky. But today I decided to open it. I have to say they are so cute. I love them both ways, painted or even unpainted with feet. Love the idea of leaving the evergreens in over winter. Could make some really nice displays with those for the holidays.

  • madeyna
    14 years ago

    Normally I just lurk here on my way to the hydrangea or iris forums but I just have to comment on this thread.I love this idea and have a 200 gal. tub sitting in the pasture that is going to get repurposed for this use.:) Thanks for the great idea.

  • sleepy33
    14 years ago

    Check these out I found online. They are meant to be used as gift baskets I guess, but they already are in colors and CHEAP! Plus they are a little shallower it seems, so you wouldn't have to use as much filler, and/or could use them in smaller areas. Such a fun idea and thread!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Hullabaloo Trading galvanized tubs

  • jbsatty
    12 years ago

    What is a soiless medium? Where can I purchase some?

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