Stylish and Low Cost 55 Gallon Drum Planters


I wanted to build some simple, low cost & attractive containers for a few fruit trees that were ready to be replanted in my backyard.  Using second hand 55 gallon food safe plastic barrels and some scrap wood that I cleaned up on the planer, I was able to create some very basic planters for my backyard garden.  The wood was free and the barrels were purchased off of craigslist for $10 a piece.
The project came together in an easy afternoon at the shop, and what’s best, I got to use my brad nailer for the first time – bonus!
Inside the containers I planted a black jack fig tree, meyer lemon tree, and an unknown varietal of avocado that I started from seed 6 years ago.  All in all, I think they really spruce up my backyard.

Step 1: Source a Plastic Barrel

I was able to find cheap and clean used barrels all over craigslist.  Although you could use a steel drum as the structural container you wouldn’t be able to use the brad nailer to affix the decorative wood slats – half the fun of this project, so I opted for plastic barrels which were cheaper and widely available used online.
I paid $10/barrel and bought two of them, one blue and one white, from a nice guy who was using them as rain barrels, but had just upgraded his system to something larger.

Step 2: Cut Barrel

Using a jig saw with a fine tooth blade, cut the top off of one of the barrels.
To mark an even cut line all the way around the barrel I simply held a marker in place at the height I wanted to cut at and spun the barrel around keeping the marker stationary – voila.
To make two smaller planters instead of just one huge one, cut the barrel in half and DON’T cut the top of the barrel off, since that will now become the bottom.

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