What is a Barrel Planter?

Mary Ellen Popolo
Mary Ellen Popolo
A wooden barrel can make a good container for plants.
A wooden barrel can make a good container for plants.

A barrel planter is crafted from a large wine or whiskey barrel. They are often used outdoors as a decorative planter for homes or businesses. Since they are both weather resistant and durable, they are a popular choice for outdoor plantings and can be used to enhance any landscape layout.

There are two basic types of barrel planters, the more common of the two is made by cutting a barrel in half horizontally, while the other style is created by cutting a barrel in half vertically. Horizontally cut barrels are rounder and come in different heights. Though full barrels are seldom used for planters, half barrels and three quarter barrels may be. A vertically cut barrel is created by cutting a barrel in half longways and is often referred to as a trough planter.

Barrel planters are crafted from large containers used to transport and store whiskey.
Barrel planters are crafted from large containers used to transport and store whiskey.

Both styles of planter are generally made of solid wood, usually oak, though they can also be made from redwood or cedar. The barrels vary in color from light beige to red to chocolate brown. The coloring depends on the type of wood the barrel is made from. Barrels can also be stained or painted, but most often they have a natural wood finish. If made from real wood the color will change, over time, from exposure to rain, wind, and sun.

Gravel may be used at the bottom of a barrel planter to help with water drainage.
Gravel may be used at the bottom of a barrel planter to help with water drainage.

Molded plastic barrel planters look similar to their wooden counterparts but may be constructed of recycled materials. They are not as heavy as wooden barrels, are more durable, and are not affected by the weather to as great an extent. Unlike wood, plastic will not rot or mildew, but it can become faded from the sun.

A horizontal barrel planter is displayed and used in an upright position. A layer of stone or gravel should be put at the bottom of the barrel, before it is filled with soil, to aid water drainage. The barrel can be placed directly on the ground or raised up a few inches on a platform of stone, brick, or wood. A vertical barrel planter sometimes has feet that aid in both drainage and stabilization of the planter. Trough planters lie closer to the ground than circular barrel planters.

Once a location for the barrel planter has been determined, soil is added over the stones or gravel to fill the planter. Enough room should be left at the top of the planter for plantings. Cascading flowers are a good choice for this type of planter since they will drape over the side of the barrel, but plants, herbs and vegetables can also be grown in a barrel planter.

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    • A wooden barrel can make a good container for plants.
      By: Brad Pict
      A wooden barrel can make a good container for plants.
    • Barrel planters are crafted from large containers used to transport and store whiskey.
      By: Gresei
      Barrel planters are crafted from large containers used to transport and store whiskey.
    • Gravel may be used at the bottom of a barrel planter to help with water drainage.
      By: nito
      Gravel may be used at the bottom of a barrel planter to help with water drainage.