How to use wine barrels as planters

Updated February 21, 2017

Wine barrels, with their natural appearance and rustic charm, make appealing garden planters. Half-barrels function as large pots, but they have the added appeal of their character and age from first being used as wine barrels. You can plant just about anything in a wine barrel, from kitchen herbs to annual flowers, carrots, strawberries or even a small tree. Preparing wine barrel planters takes only an afternoon and a few simple tools.

Purchase whole wine barrels at a hardware store, gardening centre or winery, if you have one nearby.

Lay barrels on their sides to saw them in half around the middle. The top and bottom of the whole barrel will both be bottoms for your half-barrel planters.

Drill at least four 1/2-inch drainage holes in the bottom of each barrel. Make sure at least one hole is near the centre of the barrel's base, which will likely dip down a little when it is full of potting soil.

Pour enough gravel or small rocks into the barrel to fill the bottom 2 inches of the barrel. This will help the soil drain better.

Set four bricks on the ground where you want to put your wine barrel planter. Putting the barrel on the bricks allows water to drain out the bottom more easily.

Move the barrel to its desired location in the yard and set it on the bricks. It will be very heavy and may be difficult to move after you have filled it with soil.

Fill the barrel with a potting soil mixture of your choice, leaving 2 inches between the top of the soil and the top of the barrel. The best mixture includes sand, peat moss, compost and fertiliser.

Pot your desired plants in your barrel planter, paying attention to the package directions on how far apart plants should be spaced.

Water the plants thoroughly, until you see water trickling out of the bottom drainage holes.


Adding a layer of mulch above the soil will help the planter retain moisture. Planters generally dry out more quickly than in-ground soil, but mulch helps slow the evaporation process. Whiskey barrels, which are smaller than wine barrels, can be prepared as planters using the same methods.

Things You'll Need

  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Gravel
  • Potting soil
  • Bricks
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