Galvanized Metal Tubs, Buckets, & Pails as Planters

Since we had a tumbled paver patio installed this past fall, we’d like to add some outdoor furniture and planters to pretty up our new outdoor space.  Originally, we had dreams of buying an outdoor sectional to create a great conversation area for hanging out with family and friends.  However, after finding the prices on most outdoor sectionals to be crazy high and striking out in shopping for a cheaper sectional at IKEA, we decided to take a more budget-friendly approach and buy a small outdoor sofa that we can use with the four lounge chairs that we already have.  I’m determined to find a good deal on an outdoor sofa at the Ballard Outlet so this part of our “beautify the new patio” plan is on hold while I continually stalk the outlet.   In the meantime, I’ve been checking out planter options and have fallen in love with the idea of using galvanized metal tubs, buckets, and pails as planters: 

Pottery Barn
Pottery Barn
Better Homes and Gardens
Primitive Pond Homestead
Pottery Barn
Pottery Barn
Jeanne d’Arc Living via French Larkspur
Gustavian Vintage
Pottery Barn
Glimpse of Style

I also like the idea of planting rush plants in a large galvanized tub as a privacy screen:

Dave’s Garden

Galvanized planters have a simple, country chic look that I love and I also love the fact that they are very reasonably priced. You can find them at retail stores such as Pottery Barn but there are also several places to find them for less including HomeGoods,

Target, hardware and home improvement stores, and farm supply stores.  Do you have visions of how galvanized planters could beautify your outdoor space?


  1. Anonymous says

    Thrift store, auctions and garage sales are great place to find these too! I have a couple buckets I want to use as hanging buckets.

  2. Anonymous says

    My mother raised plants in old teapots, dishpans, washpans, coffeepots, kettles, both enamel and aluminum, and old coal buckets, as well as galvanized water buckets and tubs. She also used the speckled blue enamel, the spongeware enamel, etc. Back then, there were pot menders, capable of fixing holes up to a certain size, then you had to buy new ones. The old ones with holes too big to mend became planters. The small ones lined up across the wooden bannisters, with larger ones on the porch or in the front yard. I have used old ones similar to her idea, but now, from having purchased some very cheaply at yard sales, I may drill holes in some that are still good enough to use, for use as planters. I hate messing up good ones, but I love the look of what you have done. I also hung dishpans and washpans on porch support posts, and on my barn and outbuildings–left them good to use, though. Thank you for all the great adaptions you have shared. A similar one is using the decorative tin cans as planters. Their designs are seasonal, and vibrant color touches. I also use them to store seeds in.

  3. Anonymous says

    Another thought occurred to me to share with you. The old Home Interior sconces and pockets, made of a plastic like material, are great to hang on walls or posts. I find them cheaply at yard sales, spray paint them into matching sets, and hang 2 or 3 up and down a post, and fill with tiny live flowers like impatiens and add stonecrop or creeping jenny to cascade down to the next one. I set small pots on the sconces, or tiny baskets that are lined, with a tiny potted plant in them. On the wall pockets, watch carefully , for some have plastic backs and others are a thick chipboard. You could transfer the same idea inside or on a porch wall, by using fake flowers and greenery. They are delicate and pretty, and unexpected touches.

  4. says

    Nice, nice! Using galvanized metals is really smart, if you ask me. Well, you don’t have to replace them as long as you want to have them. Basically, galvanized is made out of zinc oxide, which protects it from oxidation and corrosion.

  5. says

    I have always wanted to plant bamboo, but have heard horror stories of it taking over an entire yard, and crowding out other plants. This would be a nice way to grow it, without taking over.

  6. Anonymous says

    Our home has galium siding, l have been thinking of the sheep troughs for planters. So nice to see pictures of what I would like. The troughs I thought were pricy 100, at the farm place. Do you have any ideas for a better price?

  7. Anonymous says

    I would fill the bottom of these planters with empty soda cans or plastic water bottles. This allows for drainage and the use of less dirt/potting soil.

  8. Anonymous says

    I’ve been using them as planters in my yard for years now. Flowers in the front and veggies in the backyard. I drilled several holes in the bottom then filled with some pea gravel and a piece of landscape fabric tops the gravel so to keep the soil from washing out during a rain storm. Adding compost to your soil helps out too. It’s great for perrenials, they keep coming back year after year with little to maintain.

  9. Anonymous says

    I also use galvanized water troughs, buckets & etc. I love the look and get lots of compliments on them. I even went to an irrigation pipe place and got a piece of galvanized culvert pipe, had my husband close off one end and drill holes, set it on it’s end and planted. I really like if with the troughs.

  10. says

    In galvanized containers or any other kinds WITHOUT holes in the bottom, you can grow King Tut, or baby tut, in water! I have one in a black plastic container that I bring inside for the winter. Just keep container full of water, super easy!

  11. says

    Wasn’t sure if I liked the idea but your photos are gorgeous & you’ve made a believe out of me … so likely I’ll be sharing this idea (and maybe one of your photos with credit). Nice job

  12. says

    You can find these also at feed store for horses and such. They will carry them there in all sizes. You can also line the bottom of them in the popcorn used for shipping. Be sure to drill holes first for drainage. And I’ve heard some people use empty soda cans for filling them up before putting the dirt in there. Makes for a lighter container and not having to use so much dirt.

  13. Anonymous says

    The tall galvanized “trash” cans at Ace Hardware state that they are for dry use only. They hold a dwarf tree and keep it from monopolizing space and limit the root system from expanding. In warm zones these galvanized units attract and keep the heat.

  14. Anonymous says

    What do you use to drill the holes in the bottoms? I tried but my bit didn’t make a dent.

  15. Anonymous says

    I just re-did my patio and I have noticed before with plants once you water them the drainage water stains up the ground. Are you all putting anything underneath them? I have used old plates but I have square planters but I don’t know what I could use. And for the troughs and or pails etc. what are you using to put underneath those containers. Side Note: I thought I would use galvanized trash cans then take the lid and remove the handle and use that underneath to catch the drainage.

    • says

      Our patio is flagstone so I haven’t put anything underneath my planters since staining doesn’t seem to be an issue with flagstone like it can be with concrete and other surfaces. My concern with putting something under an outdoor galvanized planter would be that it will collect rainwater. A better solution might be to raise your planters off of the ground with something such as bricks so that water drains out easily (rather than getting stuck under the planter which is when stains tend to happen).

  16. says

    here’s a hint for your hunt, keep an eye on tag sales and the “For Sale” column in the newspapers.. you just might find something to your liking at a price to your liking!!!

  17. Betty says

    Check out wal-mart in the hardware section, your local co-op or feed and seed and you’ll find lots of galvanized containers you can get much cheaper than Pottery Barn. I spray paint mine in colors with Rustoleum.

  18. mary osterhout says

    I have found old wash tubs, buckets and cattle troughs at yard sales etc for little money and made planters out of all of them. The man I purchased the 300 gallon cattle trough from was proud when he said it didn’t even have any holes in it. He looked funny when I said that it would have holes when I got through with it. It is now an asparagus bed. I have found that you can turn many different things into planters; you just need to use your imagination. Being an old farm girl, I tend to really like the galvanized metal.

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