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.