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Coastal 101 | Home & Garden

Making a Stock Tank Planter

June 5, 2019

Here in the Northwest, it’s easy to grow veggies, flowers and more just about anywhere. But to add some country flair to your yard and garden, nothing beats a stock tank planter. To help get you started on making your own, we’ve compiled some quick tips and a few suggestions.

Choose Your Stock Tank Wisely

Whether you call them troughs or stock tanks, there are plenty of options out there, including metal and plastic models from manufacturers like Behlen Country seen at the top of this article. You might even have an old, rusted out tank on your property. Whatever you choose, be sure the size and shape will fit what you’re trying to grow. If you’re planning a garden, a long yet shallow stock tank might be preferable. Remember, the bigger the tank, the harder it will be to move when it’s filled with dirt, rocks, and plants.

Stock Tank Selection

Find a Spot in Your Yard

Sunlight is essential, but if your stock tank is metal rather than plastic, it can heat up in the sun. Once you find a good location, mark a 2-inch perimeter around the entire stock tank. Then, dig 3-inches down and add enough crushed rock to fill the hole. This will give your stock tank planter plenty of drainage.

Add Drainage to Your Stock Tank

Chances are, your stock tank comes with pre-installed, side drainage holes. If so, just open those up and you’re all set. If not, carefully drill drainage holes in the bottom of the trough. But remember, if you do drill holes, you might not be able to use it for watering your animals. Once you have your drainage figured out, cover each of the holes with wire mesh to keep your soil inside the tank.

Coastal Tip: Empty Vitalix tubs make great planters. Just add drainage, rocks, dirt, and plants for some instant country flair. 

Decorate as Needed

Stock tanks already have a classic look and feel all their own – especially ones that have seen years of service. But if you like adding color to your yard, this is the time to give your new planter a coat of paint. Use outdoor spray paint that will stick to metal and prevent rust.

Place Your Planter

Once you’re done securing the drainage and painting, place your trough on the bed of gravel you created earlier. Now, depending on the depth of your stock tank, you’ll want to add some filler to the bottom. If the tank is more than a few feet deep, fill the bottom with old wood or a hay bale. This will save you the expense of filling the bottom with soil and rocks. You really only need to have rocks and soil in the top 10 to 12-inches of your planter. In our example seen above, we added cinder blocks to the bottom and topped them with a fitted piece of plywood that included plenty of drain holes.

Once your planter is ready, add several inches of gravel followed by a soil cloth to keep your dirt from washing away.

Stock Tank Planters

Stock Tank Planters

Just Add Dirt and Plants

Finally, top everything off with nutrient-rich garden soil, including compost and any other soil amendments necessary for your neck of the woods. That includes Black Gold All-Purpose Potting Soil and Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix, and more. Or jump start your planters with bags of Happy Frog Natural & Organic Potting Soil available at Coastal. Check out our article Improving Your Garden Soil for some helpful tips.

Stock Tank Planters

Adding Height and Proper Planting

Once the soil is ready, it’s time to start planting your vegetables, fruits, shrubs, flowers, or whatever else you want to grow on your property. In our example, we added some cattle panel to the back side of the tank to give our tomatoes some support. This is also a great way to grow beans and other climbing veggies. Planting squash or watermelon near the edge gives those plants more room to grow by flowing over the side of the trough. Learn more in our article Giving Your Garden Height and Support.

Coastal tip: Want to keep away veggie eating bugs? Plant marigolds as well. These beauties can repel mosquitoes and kill bugs. You’ll find more in our article Repelling Mosquitos with Plants and Planning.

Stock planter finished product

Coastal has Stock Tanks in Stock

They’re perfect for watering animals or building your own stock tank planter. You’ll find plenty of shapes and sizes at your Northwest owned and operated Coastal. While you’re there, be sure to check out the latest selection of tack, work wear, pet supplies, and footwear for your country lifestyle.