How to Turn a Galvanized Tub Into a Raised Garden Bed

Learn how to turn a simple galvanized metal trough into a beautiful container garden for flowers or veggies.

Literally, anything (almost) can be a container garden. A bucket, a barrel, an abandoned car — as long as it's big enough and has good drainage. If you’re planning on growing plants you want to eat, we recommend using something that’s made of food-safe materials. Don’t bother with anything less than 12 inches across. Larger containers are easier to maintain because they can hold more soil, and the more soil a container can hold, the more moisture it will retain. We’re making a galvanized steel raised garden bed using a giant galvanized tub normally used for livestock feeding.

Raised tub with planted lettuce.

Planting Lettuce in a Galvanized Tub

Galvanized tub is turned into raised plant bed for lettuce.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

Tools and Materials

  • galvanized tubs
  • drill with 1/4”-1/2" drill bit
  • pavers
  • level
  • pebbles
  • mulch
  • recyclable paper goods
  • pine needles/leaves
  • soil
  • worm castings/compost

1. Drill Drainage Holes

Use a 1/4" or 1/2" drill bit to drill holes in the bottom of your galvanized tub. These holes will help your container garden drain properly. Aim for four to six holes per square foot of your container.

Drilling drainage holes into the bottom of the galvanized tub.

Drilling Holes Into the Bottom of the Galvanized Tub

Drilling drainage holes into the bottom of the galvanized tub.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

2. Elevate Your Tub

Set and level two pavers. This keeps the tub elevated and allows the drainage holes to do their job.

Blocks are leveled to go under galvanized tub to make raised plant bed.

Prepping a Galvanized Tub for Raised Garden Bed

Blocks are leveled to go under galvanized tub to make raised plant bed.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

3. Make Sure It's Level

Grab your level and set it across the tub. Is it level? Great! If not, adjust accordingly until it is.

Placing a level across the tub, making sure its level.

Leveling Our Galvanized Tub

Making sure the galvanized tub is level.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

4. First Layer: Pebbles

We’re calling it the seven-layer dip of gardening. Layer 1 is all about drainage — add a layer of pebbles to the tub. This layer will help keep the excess water flowing through the drainage holes.

Adding rocks to the bottom layer of the raised plant bed.

Pouring First Layer of Material Into Galvanized Tub

Adding rocks to the bottom layer of the raised plant bed.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

5. Second Layer: Mulch

Science says: Mulch holds onto moisture. It’s true. To make sure roots grow deep and have all the water they need, layer on the mulch.

Putting Mulch Into The Galvanized Tub

Putting Mulch Into the Galvanized Tub

Placing mulch on top of the pebbles.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

6. Third Layer: Trash

Newspaper, cardboard, egg cartons you name it; use recyclable paper products to add a layer of organic matter that will break down and give the soil an extra punch of nutrition.

Putting recyclables into galvanized tub.

Prepping Galvanized Tub for Planting

Putting recyclables into galvanized tub.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

7. Fourth Layer: Pine

Build it up to break it down. A layer of pine needles or leaves will assist both in breaking down the paper and adding nutrients to keep the soil strong and plants healthy.

Spreading a layer of pine needles in galvanized tub.

Placing Pine Needles Into Raised Plant Bed

Spreading a layer of pine needles in galvanized tub.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

8. Fifth Layer: Soil

Add the soil of your choice (potting, garden, top, etc.); it doesn’t matter what type. This seven-layer dip of dirt transforms any kind of soil into planting soil.

Filling the galvanized tub with soil.

Galvanized Tub Getting its Soil Base

Filling the galvanized tub with soil.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

9. Sixth Layer: Worm Castings

This layer is not for the squeamish, but keep in mind that it might as well be garden gold. For a gross, but amazingly effective way to dramatically improve the nutrient level of your garden, add a thin layer of worm castings.

Spreading the first layer of dirt for our raised plant beds.

Adding Our First Layer of Dirt to Our Raised Plant Beds

Spreading the first layer of dirt for our raised plant beds.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

10. Seventh Layer: Soil (Again)

Our final layer in the seven-layer dip is dirt, again. This container is now the heaven your plants need to thrive.

Putting the final layer of soil into the galvanized tub.

Smoothing Out Soil for Raised Plant Bed

Putting the final layer of soil into the galvanized tub.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

11. Start Planting

After all these steps, you can finally add the plants.

Raised tub with planted lettuce.

Planting Lettuce in a Galvanized Tub

Galvanized tub is turned into raised plant bed for lettuce.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

12. Add Live Worms

Fun last step: sprinkle in a few worms. Let these slimy earth gardeners do their thing and churn the soil.

Placing worm casting to the raised plant bed.

Adding the Worm Castings to Our Raised Plant Bed

Placing worm casting to the raised plant bed.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

Raised garden bed for lettuce.

Raised Garden Bed Full of Lettuce

Galvanized tub is turned into raised plant bed for lettuce.

Photo by: Tomas Espinoza

Tomas Espinoza

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