Introduction: Barrel Planter

Barrel Planter

This is my first post and I have to admit this isn't my original idea, I saw it in another blog on the web so I fancied trying it for myself.

It all started as I had a Douglas Fir tree which had outgrown its pot, I didn't really fancy paying the price tag required for large tree pots so I decided to see if I could find an alternative. I found out that a friend had a number of barrels that were surplus to requirements along with the rubber which fits into the cut edge to prevent anyone losing a finger. The first use of a barrel was to plant the tree and house it in a wood planter which I made from pallets. I don't have a photo, but it looks rather grand. As I had a number of drums, well three, I researched on the internet what I could do with the remaining barrels and I decided to make planters as my wife is very keen on pots.

Materials and tools

- Angle grinder with metal cutting blade to cut the barrel

- Wire wool to prepare the metal for painting, plus some gloves

- Gloss paint

- Gloss roller and paint brush

- Barrel and rubber for cut edge, I was lucky to be given both of these

The Clean

I have no idea what these barrels contained, but as they are only for plants, I scrubbed them out using standard washing up liquid. With hindsight, it is better to wash after cutting as it saves you having to do it twice.

The Cut

I made the cut using an angle grinder, I suggest wearing appropriate clothing as the sparks are extremely hot, it is also useful to have something for the barrel to sit on or be braced against as they have a habit of wandering off.

The barrels I acquired had two raised ridges so I cut along this as it was simpler. This meant I got a 1/3rd planter (the top) and a 2/3rd planter (the bottom). This suited me as I wanted the 2/3rd for larger plants such as small trees and grasses and the 1/3rd for smaller plants such as petunias or hydrangea.

For the 2/3rd planter, I made three cuts about two inches off the bottom as I wanted the planter to hold a small amount of water, but I punched holes in the bottom (or lid in reality) of the 1/3rd planter as it was only for annuals.

The boring bit

Sanding is no fun, I tried an electric sander, but found that gloves and a handful of wire-wool was the fastest way to prep the barrel. I didn't remove the existing paint, but made sure the paint had something to key against. I have read that the barrels have a coating to prevent rust, I haven't experienced any issues with the paint lifting off, but it has only been 5 weeks since I made them.

The Painting

You will notice the difference in colour between the two sections, this is because I had some black gloss left over from painting something else and my first attempt (see picture) was in black, but after some contemplation, I decided to be a bit more adventurous with this barrel and go for something more bold.

The first attempt was using Dulux outdoor gloss which cost about £17, it only required one coat and left a lovely shiny finish. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the red colour I wanted in the Dulux, so I went for Wilkinsons outdoor gloss at an amazing price of less than £8. Although the Wilkinson paint was cheaper, it did require several coats (it was clear from the instructions on the can that at least two would be required), I think two would have been sufficient, but I went for three and this pretty much used up the whole can.

The Rubber

I have children, so I made sure the cut edge was covered, it is very sharp, especially if you cannot cut straight like me. Although I was given the rubber, I found it is freely available in hardware stores and on the internet. It also finishes it off nicely.

Lessons learnt

You get what you pay for.

- I used an expensive gloss roller with the Dulux paint and got an amazing finish, the planter is almost mirrored.

- I used a cheap foam gloss roller for the Wilkinson paint and it left hundreds of bubbles, I decided to wait until the paint became tacky and then run over it with a brush which gave it a hammered metal finish which I was rather pleased with. However, I think the mirrored look is better than the hammered look and would aim for this finish if I did it again.

Metal Contest

Participated in the
Metal Contest