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Picture of Raised Planter Stand
This is a solution I came up with for planting a garden above my septic system leach field. I didn't want to plant directly on the field, or even create a raised bed. I had access to 55 gallon juice drums and thought I would make use of 3 of them. The stand features the 3 drums cut in half lengthwise, supported by a series of assemblies connected by 2x4 stringers. A good solution for the leach field issue, plus it's easier on my back.
 
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Step 1: Assemble The Assemblies

Picture of Assemble The Assemblies
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To begin, I created the 4 support assemblies that will be connected by the 2x4 stringers later on. For simplicity, I made them all identical and symmetrical. The two legs are made from 4x6 pressure treated (PT) lumber, and in my case, they measured 26-1/4" long (high). The cross members that connect each leg are 2x4 PT and connect to the legs via dadoes cut in the legs. To create the dadoes, I carefully laid them out and hogged out the material using my table saw with the blade set to 1-1/2" high and the miter gauge. With a series of kerfs cut, I turned to my chisel and hammer and cleaned the dadoes up, making sure a 2x4 would fit in snugly. Note that the legs are connected by 2 cross members. Structurally, 1 would be sufficient, but I like the symmetry of using 2 (plus I had the material handy). When the dadoes are done, cut a couple of cross members to length (31" in my case, which produces a perfect fit for the drums later on), lay on some construction adhesive and put a couple screws in each connection point. For my 6 half drums, I needed 4 assemblies. There is one more thing each assembly needs: a couple of pieces of wood that will straddle the longitudinal 2x4 that supports the underside of the drums. The inside of each piece go 3/4" off the centerline of the cross members, so as to create a 1-1/2" pocket that will hold the longitudinal piece.
memjr731 month ago

In step 3, you put 2x4s in the insides to heek the drums from rolling.

Was there any particular reason why you chose that over just making the whole thing narrower so the sides that go from one end to the other would do the same?

Thanks.

RushFan (author)  memjr731 month ago
Yes - I could have made the side assemblies closer together.
ksbracken4 months ago

I had drawn up plans similar to this, only it was a rectangular box lined w/ 2 inch foam board to insulate soil in winter. This is GENIUS!...& less costly. I am adding gravity drip irrigation w/ a reservoir on each end. Inexpensive drip irrigation, w/ all connectors/parts can be obtained from http://www.chapinlivingwaters.org/. I can alter your plans a bit to include hoop plastic/shading cloth for increasing or decreasing the temperature. Plastic hoop early in cool weather; shade cloth for summer sun. Alterations would allow for permanent trellis to come up one side. Just rotate the crops from barrel to barrel instead of having a moveable trellis. I can definitely see a 4 season planting & harvest from this design's potential. Read Elliott Coleman's book entitled "Four Season Harvest" for year-round gardening & other ideas. KUDOS! Remarkably well done for someone relatively new to gardening!

RushFan (author)  ksbracken4 months ago
Thank you! I like the sound of your modifications - they should work well. I am still using my setup, it has really worked out well. I did add irrigation, which is just a couple spray heads attached to the garden hose connection. I also added a couple trellises running down the middle, lengthwise (I used bamboo). This works really well for supporting those plants!
mainah9 months ago

Give this rig the Larry Hall treatment by moving the center bottom support to one side 2.5 inches and adding another one the same distance from the center. Screw enough ten foot lengths of rain gutter to these supports to span the distance. make sure everything is water tight and bore a 1/2 inch hole just down from the top of the rain gutter.(overflow holes). Use a hole saw to bore three 3" holes in the bottom of each drum half and Another 1/2 half inch hole in the end cap to put a Float valve in,attach a water source to the float valve and you have a self watering barrel planter. Go to Larry Hall on you tube for more great tips on container gardening.

mainah9 months ago

Give this rig the Larry Hall treatment by moving the center bottom support to one side 2.5 inches and adding another one the same distance from the center. Screw enough ten foot lengths of rain gutter to these supports to span the distance. make sure everything is water tight and bore a 1/2 inch hole just down from the top of the rain gutter.(overflow holes). Use a hole saw to bore three 3" holes in the bottom of each drum half and Another 1/2 half inch hole in the end cap to put a Float valve in,attach a water source to the float valve and you have a self watering barrel planter. Go to Larry Hall on you tube for more great tips on container gardening.

ToolboxGuy1 year ago

Love the build!

hoka1 year ago
I have got to try this!
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martind172 years ago
How'd you wash them out? And what were the barrels used for before this?
RushFan (author)  martind172 years ago
Once the barrels were cut in half, I used hot water with some dish soap. These particular ones were used for aloe.
cpeds2 years ago
That came out looking great. Excellent work.
RushFan (author)  cpeds2 years ago
Thanks! I also have a 7' length of 24" diameter corrugated plastic drainage pipe that I am doing the same thing for.
kooth2 years ago
Awesome! When the barrels are filled with soil they will be quite heavy. But your framing is so stout, the barrels aren't going anywhere! Way to go!
RushFan (author)  kooth2 years ago
Thanks for the kind words! I tend to over build things - in this case it's a good thing!
jw_wp_12 years ago
I have thought about doing this type of garden with the barrels. I have a few worries about drainage, over drying or over heating of the soil along the sides, and the edges not having the depth for roots. Have you used barrels this way before for gardening?
RushFan (author)  jw_wp_12 years ago
I have used barrels before - and haven't had any issues. The drainage holes seem to be working just fine, in fact, I hardly ever see much water coming from them. From time to time I will burrow down just to check the moisture levels. Over drying isn't an issue either. As for room for roots, I just choose plants that do well in containers. For something like carrots, I just move the row more towards the center.