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How to Make a Garden Trough

Updated on October 15, 2017

What's so Great About Garden Troughs?

Every year, garden troughs certainly seem to be gaining in popularity, after all they are the perfect compliment to any garden, patio or landscaping. What's so spectacular about them is regardless whether you are planting vegetables, plants or flowers, garden troughs allow you to have total control over your plants. You can move them around various places in your yard and they keep the bugs out. Not to mention, they just offer a certain aesthetic that a store-bought container doesn't.

Not so many years ago, you could actually find troughs nearly anywhere on the side of the road when farmers were replacing them with new ones but since they are so popular today, it's very unlikely you'll stumble across such a treasure now. It's not unrealistic to pay up to $1000 for an antique one either and even if you buy one from a store, chances are, you're probably still looking at a few hundred dollars for quality.

So, why spend this kind of money when you can make them for a fraction of the cost? Oh...perhaps I should mention that they are actually fairly simple to make and they make the perfect gifts! Or, of course you can make them and sell them too and earn yourself some extra spending money for all those flowers you want to invest in.

Making Garden Troughs

To begin you will need a Hypertufa mix. To create this, simply mix one part cement, two parts of peat and two parts of sharp sand. Now, when I say mix, I mean plan on getting a workout because this is the hardest part of the whole project. There cannot be any lumps in this mixture or they will decompose so you have to really put your muscle into this, as a bonus, you're burning a lot of calories....there's always a bright side! You want this mixture wet however, it should definitely not be runny.

Creating the Troughs

Styrofoam boxes, especially coolers like you use for camping or tailgating are the best things to use to make garden troughs. They pretty much weigh next to nothing so once you add the mixture to them, they won't end up weighing a ton. Also, if you want to get fancy and create longer ones or those of different shapes, just glue them together before you get started.

Begin by creating drain holes in the bottom. Be sure that they aren't too large that your dirt will pass through but they must be hollow so water will drain.

Mix up your Hypertufa by using the directions above, turn your Styrofoam upside down on a flat surface and apply the mixture to the bottom and around the sides, about halfway down. This is going to have to dry completely before you can flip it over so yes, this is a two day project. If you rush it, you will be disappointed.

Once this sits overnight and is completely dry, turn it over and do the inside and the top half of the sides. After your garden trough is thoroughly dry on the inside, lay plastic netting in it to keep the soil from escaping. This also eliminates the opportunity for slugs and other bugs from entering the trough from the bottom and damaging your plants.


  • Be sure to use high quality compost to ensure good drainage!

  • Always wear gloves! Cement contains lime which is very damaging to your skin!

  • Allow these to dry in a safe place where pets and other animals can't get at them.

© 2010 theherbivorehippi


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