A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Garden Troughs


A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Garden Troughs

Driving past yards of beautiful landscaping will quite often end with your gaze on gorgeous garden troughs.  Like anything that you are not experienced with, they can be intimidating but they’re too charming of an addition to your yard to resist the urge to learn.

They add wonderful detail in your garden, front yard, porch, around your pool, patio, and anywhere else you need decoration. Quite honestly, they are simpler for a beginner to use than planting directly into the ground because it’s a smaller area to work with and easier to control.

Many years ago you could pick up an old horse trough from a farmer throwing them away. However, through the years the farmers have realized just how valuable these items are and an antique one can now cost you over $1000.  Even one purchased in the store can put you back a couple hundred.  Garden troughs can be made quite easily without spending a lot of money.

They are also ideal for gifts or selling at a garage sale since everybody is looking for them these days. These homemade ones are a fraction of the weight of antique ones also so you can move them if you need to later.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Garden Troughs

The first thing you’re going to need is some form of Styrofoam boxes. Coolers are ideal to use.  The good thing about the Styrofoam is not only that they are light but you can glue several together for different sizes and shapes.

To begin, you will first make drain holes in the bottom with a knife.  You are going to need an adhesive handy, either a PVA or an Eva is fine. Next, you’re going to make the Hypertufa mix.

This consists of one part cement, two parts sharp sand, and two parts of peat. The mixing part is the hardest thing to do. If there are lumps in the mixture they will decompose eventually and fall off so put your muscles in this step. After all of the lumps are out you are going to add a little water at a time.  You want the substance a bit wetter than just moist, yet not runny.

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Start with the bottom of the project with the Styrofoam upside down.  Apply the adhesive to all of the sections not touching the ground and immediately begin to apply the Hypertufa mix before the adhesive dries. Work with your hands over the mix so it looks like stone.  The idea is to not make it look perfectly applied. The more weathered look you can end with, the better.

This will need to dry overnight, and then you will turn it over and do the other half the next day. Do not try to complete the project in one day. You will ruin it. Even if you think it is dry to the touch you must wait at least 24 hours before planting in it.  An important thing to remember when making the garden troughs is to always wear gloves. There is lime in the cement that will irradiate your skin and ruin your nails.

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First-line the garden troughs with fine plastic netting. This is an important step because the netting keeps the soil from leaking out through the drain holes and it keeps damaging slugs from entering the troughs from the bottom.

I cannot stress the importance of using high-quality compost with good drainage since it will be the foundation for the home of your plants for a few years. Place the plants in high enough so that they can drain properly and cover the soil with pea gravel or aquarium gravel.  The gravel keeps the soil from washing out from the weather, wind, and water.

Garden troughs are so popular because not only do they add detail that can even be placed up eye level and they are extremely easy to use. You can control the drainage and the condition of your soil, cover them in the winter, and move them wherever you want. Don’t let another season go by without adding some garden troughs to your landscaping.


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