Cattle Water Trough Planter for Bees

Confession: I have been recommending these cattle water trough planters to my clients like crazy, but only after I tried one out in my own garden. I took an odd unused space in my alley and added a fun little color spot dedicated to bees.

This water trough in the picture is galvanized and won’t rust any time soon. This one is about five feet long, two feet wide, and two feet tall. I picked it up for $150 from McLendon Hardware.

First step: (after putting on gloves and safety glasses) is to turn over the trough and drill plenty of holes for drainage. It’s not the easiest task, since the galvanized metal is slippery and tough to drill through. I used a ½-inch bit. Be cautious of the sharp metal shavings caused from the drilling. They could cut up bare feet on you, the kiddos, or the pets. I drilled in the driveway where I could easily sweep-up the sharp metal bits. I drilled a total of 24 holes and removed the water drain plug that comes with the trough.

Next: Place your trough in the garden and level it out. I placed a few bricks under, being careful not to block any of the drainage holes.

Soil: Fill with good quality potting soil. My trough took 1-yard to fill and I love the North Country Potting Soil from Carpinito Brothers in Kent. It’s cheaper than by-the-bag and it’s excellent quality. Fill all the way with soil. Don’t even @me about styrofoam peanuts or empty water bottles, those take away valuable root space and cause water to drain too quickly away from your good soil. So, don’t do it!

Plant away: I jam packed my planter with easy to find easy care perennials that bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love.

6 1-gallon Salvia Sylvestris

6 1-gallon Daylily ‘Stella de Oro’

5 4-inch Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’

5 1-gallon Black-Eyed-Susan (blooms later than pictured giving us blooms into fall)

6 1-gallon Agapanthus ‘Midnight Blue’ (my one splurge and they’re just about to open)

4 1-gallon Hosta ‘Royal Standard’ (probably too much sun, but they were left-overs from a project and I wanted something leafy)

Easy plants to take care of and drought tolerant thanks to plenty of potting soil. I water 2-3 times a week during the hot summer days. I’ve noticed several varieties of bumble bees, honey bees, leaf-cutter bees, wasps, hornets, hoverflies, butterflies, and hummingbirds visiting this little garden.

Have you been growing flowers and/or vegetables in cattle troughs? Comment below.

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Put Those Tomato Cages to Work!

Just a quick and silly little post. These Christmas trees are made from tomato cages turned upside down. Use tent stakes to keep the base in-place and then a zip tie works to tie the “tree top” together.

Tomato Cage Christmas Trees

Tomato Cage Christmas Trees

Wrap the cages in tinsel garland for a daytime look and add LED lights for the night. I added cedar garland to fill out the base of the “trees” and decorate the pot. So easy.

Oh, and we’re in Seahawks country, so this IS Christmas colors. Woo! Go Hawks.

The Pot of Ill Repute

Garden designers: especially those of us that install many container garden plantings throughout the seasons; are you often left with a few extra annuals after installs? The “oopsies” that you had to have but don’t really fit? Or, the “better get a few extras just-in-case?” 

Don’t you end up using these extra plants in your own container gardens (once you finally get around to planting your own towards the end of June)?

This is a story of my last pot: the pot of ill repute. 

It starts on a rainy cold day sourounded by several weathered cardboard flats full of outcasts and a few things I bought for myself. Plants were going together really well for most of my pots. I’ve been digging bright orange for the last few years and slowly I’ve been replacing yellow with dark purple. I love it! 

Now I’ve come down to the last pot. Ugg, just plant it and be done. The pot holds one random perennial salvia which won’t start to bloom till August, but whatever. Add a couple Petunia ‘Night Sky’ (awesome), and a Dahlia Starsister ‘Orange Stripes’ (How did I miss the tag showing the white stripe? Drag). Then some unknown Coleus and “Voilà.”  I still have a ton of room left… Ok, in goes an Ipomoea batatas ‘Blackie’ because black potato vine is always a good addition. And then, two rouge Diascia barberae ‘Darla Red’ (OMG, they are soooo bright hot pink against the bold orange, royal purple, AND the white. Gasp).  But wait, there’s still more room and only one garish Heuchera x ‘Georgia Peach’ (What are you thinking?), but I did it. Then I had to wait (because annuals have to grow in for a few weeks to look good, I wish they came with that as a warning on the label). 

Only one word can describe the final result: bad ass. 

Steal the look.

Bright garden colors that work.

Petunia and Diacia

Petunia ‘Night Sky’ steals the show.

Coleaus, petunia, diascia, dahlia, potato vine, huechera.

Steal this look for your garden.