How to Use Troughs for Gardens

Written by kimberly johnson
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Troughs, which traditionally are used to hold water, are also commonly used as container gardens and planted with a variety of plants and flowers. Troughs are constructed of various materials, including metal, stone and wood. However, stone troughs last much longer because they do not succumb to rot from moisture. Although trough gardens typically contain alpine plants that prefer dry soil, you can use any plant desired, even succulents.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Drill
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Tape measure
  • Screen mesh
  • Scissors
  • Pea gravel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Potting soil
  • Peat moss
  • Sharp sand
  • Shovel
  • Plants
  • Water
  • Granular fertiliser

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  1. 1

    Turn the desired trough over to ensure it has drainage holes on the bottom of it. If no drainage holes exist, drill a hole in each of the 4 bottom corners with a 1/4-inch bit. Use a standard bit for wood and a masonry bit for stone troughs.

  2. 2

    Turn the trough back over and set it in the final location in the garden, since it may be very heavy after planting.

  3. 3

    Measure the length and width of the bottom inside of the trough using a tape measure. Transfer the dimensions onto a piece of mesh screen and cut the mesh out with scissors. Insert the mesh into the bottom of the trough to prevent soil from falling out the drainage holes.

  4. 4

    Place a 1/2-inch layer of pea gravel over the entire bottom of the trough to assist with water drainage.

  5. 5

    Fill a wheelbarrow with a mixture of equal parts potting soil, sharp sand and peat moss. Mix the materials well and place the mixture into the trough until it is 3/4 full.

  6. 6

    Insert any low-growing plants into the soil that all have the same sunlight and moisture requirements. The Colorado State University Extension suggests using scarlet verbena in the back, dusty miller in the centre of the trough and trailing a lobelia in the front. Other plants that grow well in troughs include sempervivum, sedum and echeveria, which all have low water needs and will thrive in all areas during the warm months.

  7. 7

    Water the soil in the trough until water runs out the bottom drainage holes. After planting, keep the soil constantly moist. This may require daily watering, especially in the summer.

  8. 8

    Fertilise the trough once a month with a granular fertiliser that is appropriate for the type of plants you have in it.

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