Baxter County Master Gardener Program • University of Arkansas System • Division of Agriculture • © 2013 BCMG
Rusted, cracked and otherwise broken wheelbarrows no longer prove useless for transporting gardening
materials, but that doesn't mean you should discard them. The wheelbarrow vessel works well as a garden
planter fot annual and perennial flowers and even soke fruit and vegetable crops. The wheelbarrow must
have wholes to allow excess water to drain from the soil before you can plant in the wheelbarrow planter.
This project benefits outdoor spaces with limited sunlight if thr wheels function. Instead of cutting down trees
to add sunlight, you can move the wheelbarrow into sunnier locations throughout the day.
1. Flip the wheelbarrow over with the wheels facing up and drill 3/4 inch drainage holes in the bottom of the
wheelbarrow spacing each whole 3 to 6 inches apart. These drainage wholes are essential even if the
bottom of the of the wheelbarrow shows signs of rust.
2. Cut a piece of wire mesh screen, such as a window screen, to fit the bottom of the wheelbarrow. Line
the battom of the wheelbarrow with the screen so soil does'nt fall out through the drain holes. The wire mesh
you choose must have wholes small enough that the soil cannot pass through.
3. Set the wheelbarrow in place in the desired location in your garden. You can use a wheelbarrow planter as a
point on the center of a flower bed, as an eye- catching dish garden for a patio or to decorate the end of a
4. Fill the wheelbarrow to about 1 inch from the top with well drained potting soil, using a bagged mix or your
blend, such as equal parts peat moss, compost and sand or a similar blend of organic ingredients. Soil-less
potting mixes weigh considerably less than garden soil, making it easier to transport a full wheelbarrow around
5. Plant your choice of flowers or crops in the wheelbarrow planter, following the spacing guidelines for different
plant types and planting each plant as deep as they were planted in the seeding trays or cell packs. The range
of plants you can add are limitless.
6. Add a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch around the plants to aide in weed surppression and help retain moisture in the
soil. You can use organic mulch, such as shredded bark or wood chips, or inorganic mulch, such as pea gravel
or lava rock. Organic mulches decompose over time to benefit the soil structure.
Things You Will Need
3/4 inch drill bit
Wire mesh screen
You can use metal, plastic or wooden wheelbarrows for this project. If you don't like the look of the wheelbarrow,
paint the outside of the wheelbarrow to coordinate with your other garden features.
If your wheelbarrow has an open side at the back, which is common in wooden wheelbarrows, nail a board in
place to help keep the soil in place. Alternatively, you can plant groundcover or cascading plants to help hold
the soil in place.
By Amelia Allonsey
Projects to improve your garden, landscape, or just for the fun of it.