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Before & After: Tent trailer gets second life as garden bed

Updated on November 19, 2013
Tent trailer before.
Tent trailer before. | Source

A few years ago, my partner and I were incredibly busy trying to build and prepare new garden beds in advance of all the planting we wanted to do for our new farmers market business. As we cleared away space in the garden for our long row beds, we crept closer and closer to a rusty, old tent trailer shell that had been parked in a sea of creeping buttercups and blackberry vines for years.

While my partner was out of town visiting family for a month, I put some thought into this piece of ‘junk’ that sat parked behind our new beds and beside our cute, new greenhouse and knew that something had to be done. Recognizing that getting it to the junk yard wouldn’t make it onto anybody’s priority list anytime soon (inconvenient money and time commitment), I decided to get creative with it right where it stood.

Since I was desperate for more planting spaces, it made sense to me to turn it into a raised garden bed. Here are the steps I took to transform it into something useful:

  1. First, I cleared away all of the surrounding weeds and brambles, careful to create a pathway large enough to accommodate a lawn mower around the trailer so that I'd be able to maintain the space in the future, keeping it tidy looking and ensuring the plants inside it were accessible.
  2. Next, I propped up the trailer hitch end of the trailer with a concrete block to make the trailer sit level. Although garden beds don't require level surfaces, I didn't want a 45% angle bed, although that kind of design could be intriguing for other uses.
  3. Once level, I cleared the trailer bed of the trash and old lining that had accumulated in the bottom of it.
  4. Once clean, I layered the bed with cardboard (all tape and plastic stickers removed), compost, and high quality topsoil.
  5. To optimize growing space, I inserted some trellises along one end of the trailer bed to allow for vertical growers.
  6. Lastly, I planted beans along the base of the trellises and filled the rest of the bed with cucumber seeds. I choose cucumbers because I knew the space would allow them to spread out and tumble over the sides which would benefit the cucumber plants and help hide the rusty sides of the trailer bed.

Originally, I had intended to paint the exterior of the trailer bed a bright, barn red colour, but since time and money weren’t something I had a lot of, I figured I’d plant first and paint later.

In the end, I was very happy with the result. Something that had been ugly and useless was now playing an important role keeping our cucumber plants out of reach of slugs, while also looking beautiful overflowing with vibrant, green life. A very satisfying DIY repurposing project!

Tent trailer after.
Tent trailer after. | Source
Tent trailer after (detail).
Tent trailer after (detail). | Source

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    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      4 years ago from Brazil

      This must be the ultimate in recycling. A good use of available resources.

    • Jocelyn Durston profile imageAUTHOR

      Jocelyn Durston 

      4 years ago from Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

      Thanks Suzanne! I'd never heard of it either. It was very much a work-with-what-we've-got moment :)

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 

      4 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      An interesting idea! I knew someone who used to recycle baths as garden beds, but have never heard of a tent trailer being recycled into one. Good concept.

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