3 Innovative Ways To Use Horse Troughs For Gardening

Horse troughs for gardening are only growing in popularity. These interesting and trendy containers are a great recyclable idea to use in your garden. Not only does it provide another area to grow edible food or grow flowers, but it also looks stylish and vintage. Who doesn’t want to use horse toughs for gardening?

When you live in the Midwest area, it is likely you know someone with horses that always has spares! If not, you can easily find these gorgeous metallic containers in department and craft stores. They have risen in style. Through this blog we will learn about three innovative ways to use horse troughs for gardening.

What Are Horse Troughs?

So, lets start with the basics! What are horse troughs? Horse troughs are giant man made containers that include large amounts of water for horses. The purpose is to leave them outside and continue filling it up as the water is drunk or leaks out. Some horses absolutely love playing in the water!

Although it is more common to see horse trough planters that are metallic and in a square like shape, the shape and the material completely depends on the owner of the horses. There are barrel shaped and wood troughs, however, these are harder to garden with as they break apart over time.

 Can you plant vegetables in a horse trough?

Using Horse Troughs For Gardening

How do you use a horse trough for gardening? It really depends who you ask. You can get very creative when it comes to using large horse troughs are containers. I like to personally think of them as raised beds that I can use as decoration.

The first step in using a horse trough for gardening is to drill three to four large drainage holes at the bottom of the trough. It is important to do this because too much water in the soil can lead to root rot. This can eventually kill your plant, which is definitely not something we want to do!

You should also choose the spot carefully where you want to use this horse trough. Since it is metallic, that means it attracts heat and can become very hot! While it is okay for some plants to receive heat and direct sunlight, you can accidentally hurt yourself on the metal.

Vegetable Garden With A Horse Trough

Most gardeners love to plant and grow vegetables and edible plants and understandably so. Not only are they fun to grow and watch flower, but they make a delicious treat on a hot summer day. There is not a big difference in how you prepare a horse trough for vegetable gardening vs. flower gardening though.

You will need to read the seed packets clearly as not all varieties of vegetables are okay to be planted directly in a container. Some plants require a lot of space! If this is the case, I recommend purchasing determinate and container friendly varieties. These grow only to a certain size and are much more manageable!

 horse troughs for gardening

Some great choices and examples for vegetables to plant in a horse trough are onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and even strawberries! I do not recommend planting larger plants such as fruit trees as the containers are typically not large enough to contain the root systems properly.

How To Make Your Own Horse Trough Container

It is a lot easier to look for your own horse trough container then make it from scratch. However, once the container is in your hands, you can have fun with it! When using Horse Troughs for Gardening, it is up to you how you want the container to look!

Some people like to create a vintage appearance by spray painting the outside and adding lettering! You can do so much with Horse Troughs for Gardening, including using them inside as long as you have the space. I have actually seen some people use these horse trough planters as small aquariums or tanks for their fish.

Looking For An Inexpensive Horse Troughs For Gardening

Sadly, these Horse Troughs for Gardening can be very expensive! If you have the funds, you can purchase one at full cost, but it can cost you hundreds of dollars. I personally like going online and looking on used websites for pickup. You should always be safe though if you are picking up from a stranger.

 horse trough planters

Aside from online websites and local pickup, try asking around! If you live in a smaller town where horses nearly out number the population, ask around. You may have a neighbor or a friend that has a few extras. It also makes sense to look around in smaller farm towns.

Sometimes, they are disposed of to the side of the road. I recommend grabbing any that you see as they are not easy to find. With a good cleaning and some tender, love, and care, you can make this horse trough perfect for your garden!

The Dangers Of  Using Horse Troughs For Gardening

Sadly, you do need to have some caution when it comes to using horse troughs for gardening! For example, if you use the types that are made out of cardboard or wood, it is possible that the weather will slowly eat away at the material. While the material is not dangerous, it can break at any moment!

The most dangerous thing about using horse troughs for gardening though is if you use older metallic models. Some of these models were made with lead, before we knew the dangers they can cause both animals and humans. Over time, the metals like nickel, zinc, and lead can seep into the soil and make its way into the plant!


All in all, it is a great choice to re-use old horse troughs for gardening as horse trough planters. However, you should be careful about the ones you use! Always look at the date they were produced as well as the company to keep yourself safe.

Have you learned anything new about horse troughs for gardening? If yes, let us know in the comment section below! Share this article around too with friends and family!


Can you plant vegetables in a horse trough?

Technically you can plant vegetables in a horse trough! However, not all vegetables fit inside of the horse trough as they need plenty of space to grow, for example, pumpkins and melons. Smaller root vegetables like carrots and beets fit nicely though in a horse trough.

How do you prepare a metal trough for planting?

The first thing you need to do to prepare a metal trough for planting is to drill holes at the bottom for drainage. After the holes are there, clean the trough thoroughly and dry before adding in your soil, fertilizer, and seeds!

How do you plant in a trough planter?

Planting in a trough planter is not much different then planting in a regular container. However, you do need to prepare it as not all planters have holes on the bottom for drainage. Too much water can cause your plants roots to develop root rot.