Whether you want to plant a tall tree in a full-sized barrel to fill vertical space or grow an herb garden in a half-barrel, old wooden barrels are attractive and versatile landscaping elements. In addition, sturdy barrel planters allow you to place plants in unconventional growing areas such as in driveways, patios and courtyards. Planting in barrel planters is the same as planting container gardens; you can grow vegetables, annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees in barrel planters with ease. Preparing a barrel for landscaping plants requires only an afternoon of work, but will last for many years in your landscape when properly cared for.
Locate a suitable location on your property for the types of plants you want to grow in the barrel. Consider the sun and water requirements as well as the exposure to wind and proximity to other plants. Moving an empty barrel to the desired location is much easier than moving a heavy planted barrel later on.
Prepare the barrel for planting by drilling four 1/2-inch holes through the side of the planter 6 inches above the base. Holes will improve drainage of the barrel planter and prevent the wood from rotting due to exposure to standing water.
Fill the barrel with potting soil mixture to suit your planting needs, leaving 4 to 6 inches of space between the top of the soil and the barrel rim.
Plant your desired plants and place landscaping fabric around your plants to prevent weeds from growing in the barrel. Add another layer of soil to hide the landscaping fabric.
Water the barrel planter thoroughly. Saturate the soil to monitor the drainage of your barrel planter. You should see water trickling out of the holes you drilled in the base of the barrel once the soil is saturated.
If you are planning to place a barrel planter in a living area, you may want to place a protective layer between the barrel and the ground to prevent unsightly stains from the barrel.