If you love vertical gardening ideas be sure to follow me on Pinterest or subscribe to my newsletter.
I’ve wanted to add a strawberry planter to our homestead for a while. I tried a couple years ago and the chickens and goats put me out of the berry business so fast it was insane. This year I decided to build a raised strawberry container in the front yard so it is safe from the animals and still close at hand for easy watering and maintenance – a huge benefit of backyard farming and small-scale food growing.
One of my favorite features in the front is a cool whiskey barrel water feature we’ve had for a couple years. I decided instead of a traditional stacked circle planter or simple strawberry jar, I wanted to do something a little more special and tie in the whiskey barrel theme, but had trouble finding plans for what I was envisioning.
I made this from toilet paper tubes to explain to Sidney what I was looking for. And we took off to Lowe’s to make it happen.
What we used:
- 3 Whiskey Barrels ($30 each at Lowe’s)
- 1 1×4 board in an 8 foot length. ($4 at Lowe’s) I chose rough cut cedar for a couple reasons – First, cedar is naturally water resistant and secondly, the rough texture will weather and blend into the barrel’s wood better.
- 3 bags of 2.5 cubic foot potting soil mix ($10 per bag at Lowe’s)
- 2 flats of strawberry plants (20 plants) ($2 per plant)
We also planted two levels on the shadier side in cabbage plants someone had given me, so I wanted to fill the space before summer hits. When the cabbage comes out, I’ll fill in with more strawberries.
We cut the two side barrels in a spiral pattern and nested the third barrel on the lower levels of those two to give it the height I wanted. Here’s how we did it.
Cutting the Base Barrels:
Warning! Measure carefully – We found it easiest to use the 1×4 board as the basis for the level cuts so we could place them easily into the planter. For the barrels we purchased at Lowe’s, this meant the first cut came just above the top band, the second cut came mid-way through, and the last cut was just above the second band. I am very glad that we kept the two bottom bands intact to support the barrels.
- Cut out the first layer along the top band. We used a jigsaw with wood blade for the barrel cuts.
- Mark your cuts before you start cutting – I actually scribbled on the bits to remove because I’m so visual that way.
- Switch to a metal blade to cut through the band and remove it from the lower sections.
- Drill a hole through the metal band if you have a loose end after making your cuts.
- Secure the metal band that is loose with a simple self-tapping screw or nut and bolt.
Once you have your first barrel cut you’ll be repeating the same cuts on the second barrel but MIRRORED. Notice in this image that the second barrel’s cuts are reversed so that they will fan out from around the middle piece once it’s set in place.
Cutting the Top Barrel and Assembly the Tiered Planter
With the top barrel, you aren’t cutting in a spiral pattern, you are cutting both sides to create a symmetrical look. I’ll be honest – we totally eyeballed this one. I put the level across the top of the barrel midway, marked halfway on either side, and then to make that top barrel more sturdy, we moved the line to the nearest board seam. This made the cuts slightly off-centered but will keep the barrel more sturdy and easier to move if needed.
Again we had one level full-length, one level just above the top band, one level under the top band, and the last cut right on top of the bottom band leaving two full bands around the bottom of the barrel. As before, use a wood blade for cutting the wood parts, and switch to a metal blade for the metal parts.
To hold the soil in place at the various tiers we used the rough cut 1×4 cedar planks and screwed them into the middle barrel. They actually rest perfectly on the side barrels without having to be attached so if you need to move the planter you can. Note that you’ll want to move them in place BEFORE adding the soil.
Sidney angled the ends of the boards so they would lay flush against the middle barrel. The top board actually rests on top of the second board which helps keep the soil from washing out of the strawberry planter.
The top barrel was much easier with straight boards across the front, held in place with screws. Toss all the soil into the whiskey barrels and smooth it all out. And then the fun part – plants!
We added strawberries in every layer – Ozark Beauty, Sequoia, Quinault, and Allstar – so we have a mix of June-bearing and everbearing strawberries. I ran out of strawberry plants and will pick up a couple more but I filled in the top layers of the right side with some cabbage starts we were recently given. They will produce for another month or so before the weather starts getting too warm for them, and then I’ll switch out with strawberries.
And I adore the overall effect. The levels are fun, the entire planter only has a footprint about 3 1/2 x 5 feet so you could tuck this vertical planter into any sunny balcony, patio, or porch area.
You can plant this with anything – strawberries, herbs, salsa garden, gorgeous seasonal flowering plants, even a full vegetable garden if your space is limited. Any themed strawberry jar garden idea could be planted here. When these strawberries fill in (they will spread via runners and fill in all the soil space) the whole thing will be a pyramid of beautiful plants with delicious red berries right outside the front door.
I loved seeing Lowe’s follow along the building process as I shared pics on my instagram recently. In fact, you can follow Lowe’s on instagram, Pinterest or Facebook to be inspired for your own projects – or subscribe to their Creative Inspiration magazine by clicking the banner below or downloading the app for iPad.
What would you plant in a large tiered planted garden like this?
Dislaimer: This is a sponsored post, but the design, project, helpers, and decision to head to Lowe’s to make it happen were all mine.
What a creative idea! I love that you’ve made a showcase piece for your garden with strawberry plants – pretty and edible.
Shana D says
I love how those came out! I know nothing about gardening but I would attempt an herb garden in something like that.
I think they would be PERFECT for an herb garden. Really pretty.
Chris McLaughlin says
Great project for anyone living anywhere!
Great idea & very creative.
Shanyn Cascia says
What a fabulous idea! Creative, resourceful, beautiful and useful! LOVE it and want to build it!
I’d plant the greens I love to eat the most in a tiered garden like this – spinach, kale, lettuce. But I’d also put in some strawberries along with my favorite herbs, basil and rosemary. Right now I’m facing a blank spot in my side yard where I’ve planted blueberry bushes twice and failed. Guess I’ll put in a banana tree (messy but easy to grow here) and face the fact that zone 10 doesn’t grow the best blueberry bushes. But wow, look at my papaya tree grow!
Learning to get along with the zone we live in takes time and patience.
I love your project….looks very doable too. Everyone looks like they had some fun with it!
sounds like a fun project!! Definitely one I’m adding to my list of things to do in our yard once it thaws here in middle of nowhere Iowa!! : ) (Your little helper looked like he was having a blast! )
They were ALL having a good time. We had more helpers than we knew what to do with. 🙂
Kylee from Our Little Acre says
That’s going to be simply wonderful when the strawberries get bigger. I hope you’ll post a photo when it’s brimming over with berries! (Probably your helpers will pick them before you get a chance! LOL!)
Christiane Marshall says
What a great project! And the pictures really help you see the steps involved. We may just try this one! Thanks for sharing it.
This is really awesome Angela! I can’t wait to see the berries as they grow!
Great Job – what a great idea, would love to try something like this!
Barb @ A Life in Balance says
I love the strawberry plant idea. I could also see doing a pizza herb garden in one, maybe medicinal herbs in another, and cooking herbs in the last one. I think I would also tuck in a few flowers like allyssum to encourage the beneficial insects.
Yes! We filled in some flowers in the front tiered to help attract pollinators and I will probably add dill to the top of the shadier barrel when the cabbage comes out. Dill is a great herb for attracting beneficial insects. Great reminder!!
This is an awesome idea. Saw it on your Facebook post and had to see how it was put together. I do have one question though. Are the barrels treated with anything? I know sometimes companies treat wood with chemicals to keep them from falling apart due to weather.
No they aren’t treated beyond the fact that they were fired on the inside after being used to store whiskey. They are food grade barrels which stored liquer but by law can only be used for alcohol storage one time. Then they are resold or tossed. I liked being able to pick them all up at the same time although occasionally you can find them cheaper at farmer’s markets, classified ads, or flea market type venues. Buying second hand you would definitely want to ask what had been used beforehand just to check on prior use.
Freaking LOVE it! I think I’m going to try it with succulents!
This is such a wonderful and creative idea! Used your directions and my hubby and I just finished 3 for our garden. Thank you for sharing!!!
How fun! I’d love to see pics of your finished product if you want to share it on the facebook page! http://facebook.com/UntrainedHousewife