diy project: recycled barrel planter

We’ve been having the most beautiful sunny weather for the past few days here in Oakland, and it’s making me desperate to get into a garden . . . if only I had one! I’ve been planning to create a container garden for a while now, but hadn’t really found a space-saving design I liked — until this recycled barrel planter from Kate at Centsational Girl landed in my lap. Inspired by a similar planter she saw in a catalog for hundreds of dollars, Kate decided to make her own version for ten times less, using a half barrel and wood from old pallets. I love the architectural tiers, and the pre-weathered effect of both the barrel and the pallet wood. Thanks for sharing, Kate! —Kate

See the full how-to for Kate’s recycled barrel planter after the jump!


  • half wine barrel
  • 2 strips of wood ½” x 6” x 26”
  • 7 strips of wood ½” x 4” x 10–12” (length varies with mitered corners)
  • jig saw
  • compound miter saw
  • power screwdriver & drill bit for holes
  • measuring tape
  • wood screws
  • twine (optional)


1. Divide the barrel into thirds with a measuring tape, then mark where you’ll cut the barrel to create the three main tiers. I used twine to help me visualize how the barrel would look split into three levels before I drew my markings on the side of the barrel.

2. Measure the drop in the front tier where you’ll cut (12” down) and the second tier behind it (6” down) and mark areas to cut.

3. Use a traditional blade on a jig saw to carefully cut through the wood staves. For the metal band, you’ll need a special blade. I found this set of metal blades at my local True Value Hardware store for $2.39. Detach the wood blade and attach the metal blade for the sheet metal band cuts. Before you cut, double check the stability of your metal band on your barrel, since band stability varies from barrel to barrel depending on where it’s created. The band on the barrel we used was stabilized by nails driven into the band every 6” during the fabrication (or cooperage) of the barrel, so even after the cuts were made, the metal band stayed intact.

4. Once you’ve made your vertical cuts, measure the distance across the barrel (approx. 26”), and trim your wood to match the curvature of the barrel. Attach your ½” x 6” x 26” board with wood screws as shown.

5. Drill drainage holes in the bottom, two for each of the main tiers. To create the six tiers, I used salvaged wood from these pallets sitting in my side yard, which worked perfectly, and they were free! The larger boards were used for the main tiers, and the smaller boards were used to form the triangle tiers.

6. Once your main tiers are set (above), create the triangles with angled cuts on a compound miter saw. Attach your triangles together with wood screws, then secure them to the main three tiers with additional screws to form the raised triangle tiers.

7. Fill your planter with soil (it holds 2 cubic feet) and add your favorite plants!

  1. Emily says:

    What a great accessory to any outdoor space!

  2. wow that looks great! I wish I had some power tools so I could make this!

  3. Moira McEwigg says:

    holy cow! this is the best diy ever! now…where to find a wine barrel…

  4. Lizabeth says:

    Would using packing peanuts to fill part of the tub instead of soil help keep the weight down? Read that somewhere on filling large pots first with packing peanuts then soil.

    Great idea and a place down the road has free pallets! :)

  5. Carolina says:

    Im so inspired this morning! I cant wait to have a backyard to try it out in, or I’m even wondering if i could paint it white and toss is in my living room. It would be a conversation piece?

    1. Patrice says:

      What a great idea. It would look nice in a porch room with magazines, a few summer pillows and blanket nestled inside the barrel.

  6. Alix says:

    So cute and clever!

  7. I love this! What an adorable idea!

  8. Insensata! says:

    Awesome! I’ll pin it!

  9. Holly says:

    But…it’s WOOD. Which is going to rot rather quickly, right?

  10. This looks great! I don’t garden since I don’t have the time or yard, but I love the inspiration. And one day, I definitely plan to spend my fair share of time sprucing up the yard.

  11. Zsa Zsa says:

    Clever! Giving wine barrels a second life is a fab idea,not to mention eco-friendly! Love it! :)

  12. Andrea says:

    So smart! I love this!!!! And its so pretty!

  13. Oh wow, what a beautiful project! I think this is one that is going to have to go in my notebook of DIY ideas to try!

  14. PFK says:

    It won’t rot quickly. We have had one in our yard for a long time. I imagine they are pre-treated since wine barrels are made to hold liquid.

  15. j says:

    Great idea and great for those with little space to grow veggies but want to start going a little green! Great blog.Thanks for putting it out there.

  16. runcio says:

    awsome!!!!! :D

  17. Christine A. Krouse says:

    I Like it. The Pallette may have been recycled , but the barrel was new. I want to know was it designed on paper first or did it come from the head straight to the hand and then dimensioned to teach others?

  18. gabriela says:

    Just oh so lovely.

  19. Alex Nguyen says:

    found a wine barrel on craigslist! yay!

  20. Paula says:

    living in near wine country barrels are fairly inexpensive and the free wooden pallets would make this a project hubby can do for me.

  21. Mike says:

    Hi there, great project! We included your planter and a link to this post in a roundup of some of our favorite DIY wine crafts here: and while I haven’t yet completed this one, it’s on the list. Thanks for putting this together. We are lucky to have plenty of half barrels around Napa for about $20 each.

  22. truefeather77 says:

    I would love to plant this with herbs and strawberries, and maybe a tiny tomato shrub variety — interspersed with marigolds and other plants that would keep away pests. It would be gorgeous and colorful, and very practical.


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