Galvanized water tanks as planters

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As a continuation of my renovation of the vegetable garden this spring,  I tore out all of the old, wooden raised flower beds that ringed the inside of the fence, and in their place, I’m using galvanized water tanks.  The tanks are 6′ long and 2′ tall, and I couldn’t afford to buy enough to run along the entire fence line, but I think I’m going to like how they look with a little space in between.

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I purchased the tanks at a local feed store and used a 1/2″ drill bit to drill multiple drainage holes in the bottom.  Then, I dug out all of the flowers from the old bed and set them aside to wait to be transplanted.  Next I shoveled out dirt from the old bed into a wheelbarrow, used a hammer to break apart the old bed and haul away the pieces of wood, then scraped the dirt level and moved the tank into place.  I used a level to make sure it was at least approximately level front to back and side to side, then shoveled all of the old dirt back in.  The dirt only filled up about half of the tank, though, so I then hauled new dirt (a three-way mix of topsoil, sandy loam, and compost) from the site across the yard where the dump truck delivered it, into the veggie garden, and then shoveled into the new bed.  The last step was to transplant the flowers back into the new bed.

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Several great things about these galvanized tanks – they’ll last at least as long (if not longer) than pressure-treated wood, they’re tall and, being metal, will make it difficult for critters to climb up and eat my flower bulbs, they’ve got solid bottoms so the voles and mice can’t burrow in from underneath, and as the metal heats up, it will nicely warm the soil.  The only real downside is how expensive they are, which is why I installed only nine of them.

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I still need to re-run the irrigation, so that the tubing goes up from behind the tanks and the dripline can be laid along the soil.  I can’t wait to see how they look when the flowers are all grown in lush and blooming!


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17 comments on “Galvanized water tanks as planters

  1. Will the metal heat up too much in the hot summer sun? I was thinking about using these tanks in my backyard but didn’t know how hot the soil would get when temps reach 100+. The hot metal could dry the soil and cook the roots!

    • That’s a good question – we sometimes reach 100 degrees here during the summer, but only on a handful of days. I think you would be okay because there is a tremendous amount of soil used to fill up these tanks — to much, I think, to quickly overheat and dry out, or fry the plants’ roots – but of course you’d have to do a fair amount of watering on hot days!

  2. Did you do this? I read this on another site.

    “Line the tank with plastic sheeting to prevent zinc from leaching into the soil. Large amounts of zinc in your soil can inhibit plant growth. After lining, make sure to puncture drainage holes into the plastic as well.”

    • I read about this too, and thought about doing it but after researching the topic, I couldn’t find enough evidence that it would actually cause a problem. My flowers have only had one season’s growth in the tanks, but I didn’t notice any growth stunting or problems at all. I’ve seen tanks like this used for a similar purpose at restaurants and other public places, and never noticed any plastic lining being used. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to use it, although I think it would have to be punctured on the bottom a LOT in order to ensure that it didn’t interfere with drainage.

  3. I live in Arizona just outside Phoenix. I was considering using these as raised planters but as another poster questioned whether it would be a good idea. Especially, since Phoenix temperatures get 110+ in the summer. My only other alternative if I still wanted to utilize these would be east exposure. I would get the morning sun but the planters would be in the shade for the rest of the day. Would that be enough sunlight?

    • It depends on what you’re planting; many plants do well with (and actually prefer) morning sun and afternoon shade, since in the afternoon, the sun is so hot. I think your plan would work well for almost all plants. If you try it, let me know how it works!

  4. the tanks can also be painted to blend into your yard

  5. Do you feel the 1 foot deep would work instead of the 2 feet deep? I want to put mine on a stand that they make just for these so I can wash the concrete under them.

    • I think this would definitely work, but consider what you’re going to plant, since you’ll only have 12 inches of soil to work with. For most annuals and vegetables, this should be plenty 🙂

  6. What size is the planter?

  7. Where did you buy the planter?

  8. where can we get-these troughs?

    • You can get them at pretty much any farm and feed store – in my neck of the woods, they’re available at Wilco and Coastal.

  9. How many cubic feet of soil did you need to fill your planter?

  10. Do you have any idea where I can purchase a galvanized trough? I live on Cape Cod, Ma. Looking for something around 4 ft. long and 2 ft. wide. Thanks.

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