Galvanized stock tanks for raised beds

gcormanDecember 26, 2002


I'm using galvanized stock tanks as raised beds and will never garden in the ground again. I have two kinds, round ones and oblong ones. They vary from 3 to 5 feet wide and sit 2.5 feet tall. They have thin, but strong, walls. All parts of the gardens are easily reached from one side or another. They require some muscle to get set up and need to have holes drilled in the bottom for drainage, but once in place, they are ideal containers. I filled them with a custom mixed soil from a sand and gravel co. and had a lot of organic matter and pumice added to make it very light.

I'm not disabled, but am old enough to appreciate not having to bend over and work soil that's full of tree roots or is compacted from walking. That used to kill my back. Now I hardly bend at all and can prep my gardens in a fraction of the time it used to take. I'd like to hear if anyone else is using these tanks for gardening. I'm sold on them.

I'd also like suggestions for reading about accessible gardening--especially in the southwest. I do garden consulting and would like ideas for helping people of all abilities design gardens that are easy to access and care for. I think one reason more people don't garden is that it's just too hard. Pity that.


Greg Corman

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I sure think you've come up with an excellent idea. I live down the road from a farm supply warehouse. I've looked at those tubs so often and wondered how handy they would be for something other than just watering livestock. Last summer we put up a raised tomato bed from Douglas tree stumps. They were about 6'long. Stacked up to make a 3&1/2' high,x 2&1/2'deep bed. Filled with aged cow manure and dirt from the flood lands of the Skokomish Valley. An excellent rich natural dirt. Our concern is that time will decay the wood and the floods will eventually wash the dirt away. The tomatoes and hot peppers were outragous and were plump until the first frosts in October. My point is, that with your idea of the galvanized tubs for the main bed, and the fir stumps encompasing the whole thing, I will have an attractive, efficient, made to last a long time, planting bed. Easy to reach, easy to plant and good to know it won't go anywhere. Especially across the road as the flood waters recede. This is the valley the news crews film as the first floods arrive. They show the salmon swimming and squiggling across the roads, when the river reaches the flood levels. It's all funny to watch on tv, but a pain for residents to cleanup after the fact.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2002 at 2:20AM
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I like that idea! Even with many holes drilled for drainage it will help keep the moisture in and the tanks are really sturdy!

Lee AKA Fireraven9
The carcass of the beast left over from the feast can still be found haunting the kitchens. - Costello/Chieftains - St. Stephen's Day Murders

    Bookmark   December 27, 2002 at 10:56PM
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clg1(z7 AR)

Take a look at the link below for the Buehler Enabling Garden at eh Chicago Botanic Garden. It is an 11,000 sq foot accessible garden and absolutely wonderful. They also sell cutsheets on building raised beds, vertical gardens, general accessibility etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chicago Botanic Garden

    Bookmark   December 29, 2002 at 5:57PM
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DH (Robin) reminded me that plastic stock tanks may be better. The galvanized type might leech a bit of zinc and it might be better to avoid that. Still, the plastic variety are sturdy.

Lee AKA Fireraven9
And I think of you now as a dream that I had long ago
In a kingdom lost in time.
And in the forests of evening the archer is bending a bow,
And I see you bring him bread and wine. - Al Stewart

    Bookmark   December 30, 2002 at 11:47PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Did you drill the holes in the bottom or on the sides, leaving a small space for a reservoir?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2003 at 1:29PM
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Aren't the stock tanks used primarily for watering the animal stock? If any zinc is to be absorbed in any way, I'm under new advice that zinc can't hurt us. Or animals, since it's a natural element. That's the same concern that was brought to my attention, after I had posted about the recycled tires, being sliced and fastened end to end, to be used as a border for a raised bed. What about other finds that are used for edible crops, like rusty wheelbarrows for whatever, like lettuce or carrots or others. I dunno, in a garden, it seems there's always something that could be looked at in differing ways. Treated lumber, or worse yet, creosote on railroad ties, are common. That really makes the galvanized tubs seem pristine in comparison. Go figure!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2003 at 11:35PM
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hald(Sunset 8)

I have used stock tanks for the last 10 years. I grew a black pine in one; the tree reached about 25 feet tall before I removed it. I have azaleas in my back yard along a fence that are in stock tanks; they are huge, about 10 feet tall.
The only drawback is how the tanks look. I still haven't figured a way of making the stock tanks attractive. Any ideas? - Hal

    Bookmark   February 6, 2003 at 11:21AM
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Can someone tell me if the silver galvanized tanks at Home Depot are the same item? (Or are these stock tanks specific to farm supply places?)


    Bookmark   February 8, 2003 at 9:08AM
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I live in a City and I was wondering the same thing as Tangerine was asking in the post just above mine. Could you please be kind enough and direct me to a place where I can purchase these Galvanized Stock Tanks. I had a raised bed made in the front of our house out of very pretty rock, however, it was quite expensive. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Punky.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2003 at 12:37AM
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I am told that I already posted under the orginial subject of your post. I really can't find it, however, I have changed the subject at little, however, my message is the same.RE: Galvanized stock tanks for raised beds
Posted by: punky36 Z5 (My Page) on Tue, Mar 18, 03 at 0:37

I live in a City and I was wondering the same thing as Tangerine was asking in the post just above mine. Could you please be kind enough and direct me to a place where I can purchase these Galvanized Stock Tanks. I had a raised bed made in the front of our house out of very pretty rock, however, it was quite expensive. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Punky

    Bookmark   March 18, 2003 at 12:45AM
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adrianag(AL z7)

How to make them pretty? How about growing vining plants that will drape over the sides like Marguerite sweet potato vines or ivy. Or cut a "skirt" out of that bamboo fencing material.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2003 at 2:00AM
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What about using wave petunias over the edge?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2003 at 11:03AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi everyone,
I realize this thread is older, but I just saw it. I recently bought a 100 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank to grow waterlilies and lotus in. It already has a drain in it. As I was setting it up for my waterplants, it occurred to me that it would be great for raised beds. What's great about it is how much soil would be in you wouldn't have to worry so much about it drying out so fast. Mine iis 100 gallon and cost about $60. You could easily put a big trellis in it too, for cucs or beans. It could probably hold 3-6 tomato plants easy.
We discussed how to make it look prettier awhile back on the pond forum. Many people get those landscape bricks and build a wall around them. Some people make a little picket fence-type thing right up next to it, while others grow tall flowers around it. I'm not sure which substance would leach into your veggies more.....the plastic tank or the galvanized one. There probably, unfortunately, hasn't been any research on it. I guess if you were worried, you could line it with plastic.......but then what's in the plastic??
I think it's a great idea for raised beds. I got mine at Mennards. They also had a 50 gal and a 70 gallon.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2003 at 8:51AM
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Well, this is an old posted question but since I was doing a search for this idea, I figure others will, too.
I first came across this idea of using galvanized feed tanks when I read an issue of Mary Jane's Farm and then a comprehensive article in our local paper.
I purchased two feed toughs from our local farm store -- sized at 5 1/2 feet long by 2 foot wide by 1 foot deep. I put them on cinder blocks (two deep at each end) after drilling many holes in the bottom. I then laid cloth in the bottom to prevent the soil from running out during rainstorms or watering (didn't know what kind of cloth to get so bought some Sunbrella cloth for making umbrellas at about $2.00 a foot).
Each tank took 10 cubic feet of soil so I think if I had it to do over I would put a layer of pumice in the bottom or us those packing "peanuts" to fill the bottom but not add weight.
I sprayed the cinder blocks with light green paint and they look really good. One idea is to paint the tanks themsleves and I have seen photos of red ones, yellow ones, black ones (this colr would warm the soil a lot). How about letting your kids loose with spray cans?
These galvanized tanks are not cheap; mine cost $120 each but I figure they will last a lot longer than my wooden ones. I even found a two-foot diameter round galvanized but and it is growing a potato plant very well.
Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 1:33PM
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chrmann(z7 AL)

Not sure if this is the same thing as the feed troughs. But, I have used old hot water heater tanks. You cut them in half lengthwise. So, one tank makes two beds to plant in. We made a wooden frame on both ends to hold it up. And, most people appreciate you taking their old tanks from them. So, it doesn't cost much to fix these up.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 11:45AM
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chrmann(z7 AL)

Went back and re-read your posting "seeks-to-know". I have read that certain colors make certain plants grow better. Red containers help tomatoes grow better. I have used red plastic containers to plant tomatoes in. So, now I will paint the outside of my hot water heater beds "red".

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 11:56AM
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bari_sax(z9 CA Bay Area)

Bonehead question: How do I open the drain plug of this stock tank (I'm using it as a container for bamboo)?

I'm fairly sure the outer octagonal part should stay put, but don't see a good way to get a grip on the central round part to rotate it out. Is there a tool I'm supposed to use?

Here is a link that might be useful: Drain Plug

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 6:34AM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Bari Sax, I've never seen a drain plug like that. Why not call the place you bought it from, and ask them? Or see if there is a manufacturer label on it, and track them down.

It looks like you need a special tool, to me.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 8:47PM
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I plan to garden with these stock tanks this year. What about putting foam peanuts in bottom first, to minimize the amount of soil needed. Then lay weed barrier over the peanuts to keep the soil from leaching. Drill holes in sides near the bottom for drainage and to keep critters from burrowing up into the tank after the roots. They wouldn't come in from the side holes, would they? I also am thinking of sterilizing the ground where I plan to put my tanks first, then after tanks are placed, putting down wood you can tell, I don't like dealing with all!!! I will outline the entire garden with railroad ties to make a boundary for the sterilization and to keep the mulch contained. I am anxious for any and all ideas!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 9:34AM
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I use the stock tanks in my Seattle garden. Began gardening with them last year and I am sold! We have a contemporary design house and so the galvanised aluminum works well for us. I love that I can place them wherever the sun is..even against the house or on the patio.I would reccommend using the packing peanuts in bags (sand bags work great, you can buy them at most hardware stores)..that way if you ever want to change the soil out you'll be able to easily seperate the peanuts from the soil.
Go stock tanks!!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 1:18PM
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I sure wish I'd thought of using the foam peanuts in bags before I filled the bottoms of my two with broken rock and brick. No way I'm moving those without a fork lift! lol
I got mine because I did some major damage to my back. Typical rasied beds just weren't raised enough for me.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 1:23PM
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TwoMonths(So Calif)

You can put large plastic soda bottles in the bottom as well. But it seems the ones that are low are still too low. Also don't you still have to lean over....and on those tanks there is really not a comfortable place to sit.
I am gardening even higher so I do not have to really bend much. I have my containers on legs/tables or high benches. Then I can stand. For example, I have the bottom half of an old trunk sitting on a bench I had made out of twin headboards.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 10:47PM
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I'm not sure if this thread is still active, but does anyone here know where to purchase stock tanks in Seattle metro area? I am looking for 55-100gal (or about 5ft long) rubbermaid/plastic stock tanks, not galvanized. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 4:25PM
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Yuko - look in the yellow pages for "ranch supplies" and horse feed. They will have them or know who does.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 7:59AM
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Everyone is doing so much decorating and recycling wooden pallets into such creative decor/furniture/shelving. One side of a pallet can be used as a trellis and also make a three side enclosure to block the silver tank effect.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:23PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Google Lowe's Seattle. I found them there.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 12:58PM
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This is an interesting thread, especially since last spring I set up two big plastic containers used for salt lick and minerals for our cattle. We buy it in these giant black plastic containers and the cows lick it down to nothing PDQ. Now I have two huge containers for my eggplants and peppers in a hot protected place on our patio. The plants are bigger than they ever were in the garden and beginning to give me fruit. We live in a very moderate climate with lots of summer wind which is what gave me the idea to keep them more protected and warm.

I will have to keep my eye on the stock tanks, too. I have raised beds in the garden but they aren't all that high and the bending gets to my back, too. Picking bush beans is a killer now. I could set a stock tank on top of the raised beds for some things. Wonder how that would be???

I don't want to give up gardening, especially veggie, but it is getting harder each year.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 6:28PM
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About a third of my garden is in stock tanks. The only reason more of it isn't is because the tanks are so expensive!

I set a piece of PVC pipe with an elbow at the bottom inside one end, then filled the bottom 8 inches or so with gravel. Drilled drain holes right at the top of the gravel line at the other end. Laid a piece of filter fabric over the gravel, and put the dirt on top of that.

Why the PVC? When I need to water the garden I just put the hose into the top of the PVC pipe and let it run till water comes out the drain holes I drilled. Keeps the soil above nicely watered without soaking for a good week.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:37PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

This past March, after researching alot, I decided to go with the 6' long, 1' deep food-grade poly stocktanks from Behlens.
I drilled holes in the bottoms and put 1/2" hardware cloth on the bottoms. I raised one of them with bales of straw, and the other one with cement blocks and wood. I LOVE them. I still have a big traditional garden, but I sure love just walking up to these raised stocktanks and working with the veggies at waist level.

I need to add more soil to them, since it has settled. They do dry out fairly quickly, so they need to be watered fairly frequently if it doesn't rain.
These come in different sizes too, but I'm happy with these.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 4:36PM
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