How to Use a Wheelbarrow as a Planter

What You'll Need
Old wheelbarrow
Wire brush
Bricks for supports
Soil/compost mix
Garden sand
Light gravel
Paint and brush

Wheelbarrow planters are popular item but many of them are built specially as garden ornaments. There is no reason at all not to use an old wheelbarrow at the end of its useful life.

Step 1 – Check the Wheelbarrow

If the wheelbarrow has had a long and varied life you need to check it out. Ensure that it is not on the point of collapse. Make sure that the barrow is not contaminated with anything that will harm your plants.

Step 2 – Shorten the Handles

If the wheelbarrow has long handles shorten them to a foot or less. This will make the planter less of an obstacle. If the handles are metal you should be able to remove the rubber molded hand grips and fit them to the shorter handles.

Step 3 – Clean the Barrow

If the barrow is encrusted from lots of use, clean as much off as you can. If you know that the encrustation does not contain harmful chemicals, use a wire brush. If there could be a danger to your plants clean the barrow much more vigorously. Fill the barrow with water if it is water-tight and leave it to soak as long as possible. This might make cleaning it easier.

Step 4 – Check the Wheel

It will be useful to be able to move the wheelbarrow planter so check the wheel to see if it will be useful. If the wheel bearing has collapsed don’t worry about it. There is no point in repairing it.

Step 5 – Decide on the Location

Decide on where you are going to put the garden planter. If it will be on the lawn the handle supports will need to have a brick or slab under them to prevent them sinking into the lawn.

Step 6 – Paint the Barrow

Clean up the outside of the wheel barrow and paint it to fit in with the garden. This will smarten it up and also prevent rust from forming. If it is a wooden wheelbarrow it will prevent water penetration and molds and fungi getting established.

Step 7 – Position the Planter

Once the paint is dry put the wheelbarrow planter where you had planned. Confirm that it looks ‘right’ there.

Step 8 – Create Drainage

If the barrow is water-tight you need to make several small holes in the lowest part of the barrow to allow drainage.

Step 8 – Populate the Planter

Install the plants that you want in the planter. If the plants are to remain in their pots arrange them as you will and fill any spaces with garden sand. If the plants will be removed from their pots put an inch or two of fine gravel in the bottom of the planter. This will aid drainage. Use a mix of soil and compost to fill out the soil in the barrow so that the plants are all well supported.  

A wheelbarrow planter is an excellent way to add a small highlight to a garden. Using a real wheelbarrow will make yours stand out.