Using big animal watering troughs as containers?

DrynDusty(z8 AZ)August 6, 2006

Has anyone tried using watering troughs as containers for plants? We saw a home in Albuquerque that had quit a few set up that way. They had just planted theirs so it was hard to tell what results to expect. We're in zone 8/9, and have plenty of rabbits and javalinas as frequent eaters.

I'm thinking of 2 oval troughs, 2 feet x 6 feet x 2 feet deep. Any ideas as far as ability to survive hot weather? How to protect against rabbits, javalinas, and/or deer?


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Hi Norm,

I know a woman in Phoenix who has made some neat planters out of watering troughs. She painted them, and are quite attractive. Only issue she had was the amount of soil needed, and I forgot how she solved that. Think she might have put sytrofoam blocks in the bottom of the trough as filler. They also make neat water gardens.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 7:40PM
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DrynDusty(z8 AZ)

Thanks, jimdaz, that's something to consider. I've heard of people putting empty plastic bottles into the bottom of a large trough. Styrofoam is another answer. There's always a lot of that being thrown away, either pellets or blocks. I like the idea of a water garden, too.
Good ideas. Norm

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 12:17AM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

In beds I have made with concrete block I line the inside with plastic to stop it from wicking water. I've also completely sealed them with pond liner and made a wet bed to grow marginals.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 4:27PM
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kathleen10(z9b AZ)

This type of raised bed planting is great and it gives you much better soil options than if you use the ground. BUT....

I hate to tell you this, but the rabbits will jump up into these containers to chow down. The birds will fly in and do the same and the squirrels and mice will climb up ....

I'm sorry to tell you but the desert critters are pretty voracious and hard to keep out of planters. The best defense I know is to use a lot of chicken wire to surround everything. It's ugly and frankly, I've given it up for the most part. Now I just pick things that are not on the critter menu in order to get things growing.

Here are things that haven't been eaten at my critter haven/desert garden:
purple trailing lantana
aloes & yuccas
salvia greggi
salvia clevelandii
cassia bushes
Mexican bird of paradise (yellow)
cat claw vine
Hall's Honeysuckle
False Penstemon
Brittle Bush
Texas Ranger Sage
Many cacti (but some are tender and tasty too!)

Here are some things that are on the critter menu and so they don't grow here anymore unless drastic protection measures are taken and we're worn out doing those:
Ice Plant
Elephant Food (only in a tall hanging basket)
Hearts and Flowers (OK in basket)
Sweet Peas
All vegetables
Several milky sap Euphorbia varieties (pencil, Milk tree, etc.)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 2:29AM
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gemfire(z9/10 AZ)

Kathleen, the rabbits will eat the purple trailing lantana and even dig up the root. They ate mine down to nothing then when they started growing back they started digging them up and eating the whole thing. I have 2 left (I think, didn't look today) out of about 15 that I put across the front of my yard
I have found that I can put garlic cloves by plants that they eat and they will stay away.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 2:01AM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

They'll eat 2x4's if they're hungry enough.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 2:47AM
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kathleen10(z9b AZ)

Wow, Pam, I didn't know that. My lantana is right up next to the front porch and it's been in 15+ years. The thing covers an area of about 8x16. I've seen rabbits up near the porch (actually even cuddled up next to the house trying to keep cool in the north shade) but I've never seen them eating that plant. Then again, I do have plenty of prickly pear and other native type things further out from the house. And I have a full acre covered with pretty thick desert vegetation (Cave Creek area) so maybe they just leave that lantana alone since there are other things to nibble on?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 5:20AM
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DrynDusty(z8 AZ)

Wow, thanks to all for your interesting replies. Perhaps I won't go on with this project. So far we've had no animal damage to our garden plants, except for tomatoes, beans, and all the melons, zucchinis, even though we see rabbits and javelinas aplenty. They are currently eating the grasses it seems. They never have eaten any of the container plants. Deer have been seen in our neighbors yard, but not our own, yet.
Thank God for all the rains we've had in the current monsoon season. I've been able to rototill areas that have been too hard for tilling. Maybe I'll do some green manure planting to improve the soil?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 4:51PM
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I just bought a large horse watering trough at a surplus sale - it's 6 feet in diameter - for $70. I then went on Ebay, bought a pond liner for it and have turned it into a Koi pond/water plant feature. It's pretty cool, really. The fish love it and my plants are thriving in it. I like it so much I am now trying to find an even larger trough to do a second of the same thing with. Water plants are easy to grow, you don't really even need a "green thumb", they look great depending on what variety you get and are a great addition to most landscaping themes.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 2:22PM
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crista(Sunset 13)

Sounds like you've got a really cool pond system going! There used to be an antique store on Brown just west of Lindsay in Mesa that used troughs just as you described -- they were there for many years and always looked great!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 4:03PM
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